Ministry of Natural Resources boasts decade of ecological gains

China has successfully conserved 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of its arable land and protected 30% of its total landmass under the “ecological redline” system, said government spokespersons on Monday 19 September.

They were speaking at one of a series of press conferences looking back at government achievements since the 18th Party Congress in 2012.

The 20th Party Congress will be held on 16 October.

At the press conference, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) said the achievements ensured the supply of high-quality natural resources, including agricultural resources, to national development. 

MNR’s vice minister, Zhuang Shaoqin, stated that the much discussed system of “ecological redlines” now covers the areas with the most important ecological functions and with particular ecological sensitivity.

Zhuang also mentioned the ecological restoration projects that have taken place in many former mining areas, as well as sea, coastal and mangrove restoration projects.

These projects, along with reforestation initiatives across the country, have contributed to the  carbon sequestration function of China’s land mass. According to the MNR, China’s land now holds up to 11.4 billion tons of carbon, among the most in the world.

China initiated a farmland conservation system in 2006, when the central government set up the 1.8 billion mu minimum level of arable land for the country to keep to feed its people. Through construction and urban developments once threatened this objective, it has been defended, said the MNR.

“Ecological civilisation” has been a central focus of Xi Jinping’s decade in office since the 18th Party Congress. The progress outlined by the MNR and other departments on Monday demonstrates how central government technocrats are interpreting and implementing Xi’s call to action, striking a balance between economic productivity and environmental protection.

Read more about ecological civilisation on China Dialogue here.