China’s biodiversity law

Authored by: John Copeland Nagle

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:


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China offers the best and the worst of biodiversity protection. China is a vast, varied nation that hosts an incredible range of ecosystems and species. “China’s biodiversity ranks eighth in the world and first in the northern hemisphere” (China’s Agenda 21, p. 1). Over 100,000 species of animals and nearly 33,000 plant species exist in 460 different types of ecosystems. Those ecosystems include forests, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, seas and coastal areas, and agricultural ecosystems. China hosts 212 different types of bamboo forests alone. China also has an unusual number of ancient and relic species because of its protection from historic geologic events, such as the movement of glaciers. Most famously, it is the only home of the giant panda, the symbol of many efforts to protect biodiversity throughout the world today. Such species and ecosystem diversity is complemented by an unsurpassed collection of genetic diversity. “The richness of China’s cultivated plants and domestic animals [is] incomparable in the world. Not only did many plants and animals on which human survival depend originate in China, but it also retains large numbers of their wild prototypes and relatives” (Development Gateway). A 2005 report estimated that China’s biodiversity is valued at nearly five hundred billion dollars (Maxey and Lutz, 1994).

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