In an attempt to preserve its natural heritage from its fast-paced urbanization, China is developing a national park system inspired by the US. The scheme is planned to be officially revealed as early as 2020.
Right now, China’s protected park areas (around 15 percent of the whole country, according to the Associated Press) are run by disparate agencies, and rules and guidelines are difficult to enforce. The project will have China’s parks joined under a single unified system, with similar guidelines regarding development and conservation backed up by science.
The first of the Chinese national parks will be Sanjiangyuan in western China’s Qinghai Province, home to species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, such as the Chinese mountain cat and the snow leopard, as well as the headwater of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Mekong rivers. To preserve the area, officials have stopped issuing permits for mining and hydropower.
The development of national parks in China is, however, raising questions about the future of those who currently inhabit and live off the land projected to be part of the system. Currently some locals have been given conservation-related jobs, such as picking up trash and monitoring poaching activities as part of the “One Family, One Ranger,” program but the exact details of a possible relocation for many are still unclear.