New plans revealed for China’s national parks

Guan Zhiou, head of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA), has given an update on the status of China’s national parks.

Describing the sites in the second batch of national parks, Zhiou mentioned one in Shandong, another in Zhejiang, and a third in Xinjiang. The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon proposal, which China Dialogue had reported on, was not mentioned. 

In Shandong, the Yellow River Mouth national park has become China’s first to integrate land and sea areas. The wetlands are well known for their endangered birds

In Zhejiang, the Qian Jiang Yuan–Bai Shan Zu national park is the result of merging two nature reserves. The source of several waterways including the Qiantang River, the area has long served as an important ecological safety shield for the Yangtze River Delta.

China’s national parks aim to protect valuable landscapes and authentic and complete ecosystems, Professor Yang Rui has told China Dialogue. Certain activities that do not conflict with conservation are allowed, mainly scientific research, education and recreation. 

The update on the second batch of national parks comes two years after the first five were formally established. The SFGA also gave news on these parks and revealed their master plans for 2023–2030.  

It claims that the largest park, Sanjiangyuan, has “realised the overall protection” of the sources of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang (Mekong) rivers. The park’s population of Tibetan antelope, which had been hit hard by poaching, has rebounded from under 20,000 to over 70,000, sated the SFGA.

According to its master plan, Sanjiangyuan will tailor its management measures to the different zones within the park, including the core protection area, general control area, and boundary area.

To address human–animal conflicts in the core area, warning signs and protective infrastructure will be built.

In the general area, strict limitations on human activities and car access will be enforced during the breeding season. During migration periods, unnecessary fences on the Qinghai–Tibet Railway and national highways will be removed to improve habitat connectivity.

Near the boundary, a buffer zone, nature experience zone, and peripheral protection zone will be established. 

The SFGA will now focus on supervising the construction of more national parks, “prioritising high-level conservation”. Meanwhile, it will push for the introduction of the National Park Law, and strengthen legal frameworks and enforcement. It also plans to promote sustainable use of natural resources through moderately developing ecotourism and nature education, it said.

Read China Dialogue’s article on how the Yellow River Mouth National Park protects its rivers, land, shoals and seas.