As the world’s most populous country, China is home to nearly 20% of the world’s people. It is also one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, housing nearly 10% of all plant species and 14% of animals on earth. Today much of this biodiversity is at risk.
The unparalleled scale and speed of Chinese industrialization and urbanization in the last 30 years have taken a toll on the nation’s environment and biodiversity. Among the hardest-hit ecosystems are valuable wetlands and natural forests that experienced a 20% decline in vascular plants and a 44% overall decline in the nation’s wildlife population. The environmental impact from China’s economic rise is also reverberating beyond its national borders.
The good news, however, is that China’s leaders and the Chinese public increasingly recognize the need to balance economic growth and conservation.
The acknowledgment that economic growth and conservation are two sides of the same coin presents an opportunity for the Paulson Institute to support China as they make progress in the area of conservation.