China will build the world's largest national park system, and a layout plan for the system will be released soon, a senior official said on Monday.
Li Chunliang, deputy head of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, said at a news conference that the plan is being drafted in accordance with the requirements of building a system with the largest scale of protection, the most diverse geographical features and the highest conservation value in the world.
"We will encourage the local residents around the parks to take part in environmental protection, nature education and ecotourism services. That will give them real benefits and enhance their sense of the national parks belonging to the people," Li said.
Under the plan, which was initiated by the administration in 2019, about 50 areas have been selected as candidates for national parks. The parks are expected to cover 10 percent of the country's land area and protect more than 80 percent of the key national protected wild plant and animal species and their habitats.
In October, China announced its first group of five national parks, covering a total land area of more than 230,000 square kilometers and containing nearly 30 percent of the country's key terrestrial wildlife species.
Since their establishment, the parks have made achievements in environmental and species protection.
Giant Panda National Park in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces connects giant panda habitats that originally belonged to 73 nature reserves. About 72 percent of the country's wild giant pandas are under the park's protection, Li said.
The Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces has unblocked the migration channels of wild animals. Since 2017, the number of Siberian tigers in the park has increased from 27 to about 50, while the number of Siberian leopards rose from 42 to 60.
In Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, three Hainan gibbons have been added to the wild population in the past two years, bringing the total number to 36.
"At the same time, a new group of national parks is being established in an orderly manner, and we insist on establishing new ones only after the operations of the previous ones have matured," he emphasized.
At the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province in April, Li, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration official, said that China will establish national parks this year on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in the Yellow River and Yangtze River basins.
Li also said at the news conference on Monday that China's planted forest conservation area has reached 87.6 million hectares, ranking No 1 in the world, and the grassland area is 264 million hectares, ranking second worldwide. China is also one of the 12 countries with the richest biodiversity in the world, he added.