National parks playing crucial protection role

A pristine wetland in the Sanjiangyuan, or Three-River-Source, National Park in Qinghai province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The first nature reserve in China was established in Guangdong province in 1956. Since then, the country has built a large number of such reserves, along with wetland and forest parks.

In 2013, the central government officially promoted the concept of building a national park network to protect the country's ecological systems, releasing a pilot plan two years later.

Construction was approved for 10 pilot national parks covering more than 220,000 square kilometers-the first being Three-River-Source National Park in Qinghai province.

In 2019, the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guideline to improve the protection of nature reserves, with the aim of achieving world-leading management and preservation levels by 2035.

The guideline will ensure that a protection system, with national parks as a major component, is established by 2025.These parks are expected to safeguard natural ecosystems, relics, scenery and biodiversity, and also protect the country's environmental security.

In national parks, the strictest protection occurs within "redline" zones, a key government strategy that places designated areas under mandatory protection.

National parks have successfully protected wildlife habitats, resulting in stable growth of some endangered species.

At Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, which is located in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, the numbers of Siberian tigers and Amur leopards have steadily risen. The total population of the former in the wild now stands at 27, and the latter at 42.

The two species are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

Giant Panda National Park, covering a total area of 27,134 sq km in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, has protected wildlife such as the giant panda, crested ibis and snub-nosed monkey, which have all seen their populations rise in the past five years.