Dedicated law will strengthen preservation of wetland areas

China Daily Updated: 2022-11-11

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A visitor admires pictures at China's Achievement Exhibition for the 30th Anniversary of Accession to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Nov 6, 2022. [Photo by JIN ZHENQIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Governments at all levels required to launch public awareness campaigns

In a move to strengthen wetland protection, the National People's Congress, the top legislature, passed the Wetland Protection Law, a dedicated measure that will help strengthen and coordinate efforts to conserve the natural resources often dubbed "the kidneys of the planet".

The law, which came into effect on June 1, stipulates that governments at all levels should introduce a number of campaigns to raise public awareness of wetland preservation, such as setting up a wetland protection day or week. Education authorities and schools have also been tasked with improving awareness.

According to the law, the country will exercise the administration of wetland areas at different levels of government, and important areas must be brought under ecological conservation "red lines", which may not be crossed.

Forestry and grassland authorities and other related departments of the State Council, China's Cabinet, will release a national catalog of important wetlands, it said, adding that protection signs need to be set up.

The protection of peat swamps and mangrove wetlands is included among the major concerns of the law.

The unauthorized exploitation of peat and groundwater from peat swamp wetlands is prohibited, according to the law.

Meanwhile, it is forbidden to fill or dig ponds in mangrove wetlands, while felling, excavating and transplanting mangroves are also banned. Overexploitation of mangrove seeds is also prohibited.

The law includes provisions to establish a compensation system for those affected by ecological conservation, which will require improved government funding to protect vital wetlands.

Yang Zhaoxia, an ecology expert with Beijing Forestry University, said the new law strengthens the country's legal system in the area of ecosystem conservation.

The work of wetland protection is related to various government departments, including water conservation, environmental protection and natural resources. Because of this, stipulations about wetland protection were previously scattered across different laws, such as those related to the management of water resources and pollution control, he said.

With an emphasis solely on certain factors or wetland functions, these laws have failed to promote the protection of wetland ecological spaces, functions and ecosystems in a coordinated manner, he noted.

"The implementation of the law will encourage the reasonable and regulated utilization of wetlands and ensure sound wetland ecosystems for sustainable use, contributing to economic, social and ecological benefits in a combined manner," Yang said.

At a symposium on the law in May, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, stressed that local governments and responsible departments should play principal roles in wetland protection.

He also underscored that the country should allow nature to restore itself as a major approach in its endeavors for wetland restoration, though natural restoration can also be combined with artificial measures.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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