International Conference on Sharing Best Practices and Ideas Worldwide for Establishing China’s National Park System

An international conference on sharing international best practices and ideas for establishing China’s first National Park System was held today by the Paulson Institute, in collaboration with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), facilitated by the Heren Foundation. Experts from the United States, New Zealand, and China gave reports on natural protected area systems, the relationship between national parks and protected area, the development of a national park system, as well as spatial planning, scientific research management, environmental education, and legal protection for national parks. Panel discussions were held on governance of national parks and other protected areas, natural resources conservation, concession operation systems, community development, and other topics.

The conference provided an opportunity for communication among experts, staff, and officials from relevant agencies, the pilot provinces, and cities, helping to deepen the understanding and forge consensus on the establishment of a national park system.

It is essential to set up correct concept for national park system. We should put ecological protection as the top priority, implement stricter national park protection measures, ensure that the core protected areas remain intact, maintain the size of the protection area, and keep up the momentum around conservation. We should emphasize the national significance of national parks. As the symbol of a national image, a national park should not only include extremely important ecological system, but also have its unique natural landscape and rich scientific/cultural value. It should highlight the country’s image to the entire nation. National parks belong to the public, so they require improvement of the public ownership system of the country’s total natural resources assets. We should actively promote public engagement and enhance joint development capacity. While under effective protection, the national park should provide opportunities for leisure activities to the public, so as to improve public sharing.

Secondly, the key to establishing the national park system is to optimize the protected area system. We should reform the existing system, in which departments set up different natural protected areas separately. We should integrate and adjust all kinds of natural protected areas, based on the conservation targets and functions, in order to establish an effective protected areas system with scientific-based categories.

Thirdly, the key to establishment of a national system is to build a unified, standardized and efficient management system. On the basis of the exploration of diversified protection and management patterns, we should establish a unified management system and improve supporting systems, including funding resources, property identification, and legal framework. We should explore innovative operation mechanism, aiming to address institutional difficulties such as trans-regional and cross-agencies issues. We should strengthen the authenticity and integrity of the conservation of natural eco-systems and natural cultural heritage, so that these valuable natural eco-resources can be owned and shared by the whole nation, and passed down to future generations. This conference is expected to bring positive impact to the better implementation of the decisions and deployment of CPC Central Committee and the State Council, to steadily push forward national park system pilots and the research and formulation of the national park system master plan.

An official from the Department of Social Development, NDRC, and the chief conservation officer from Paulson Institute gave a speech respectively. 120 representatives attended the conference, including those from the government agencies and research institutions engaged in the establishment of the national park system, such as relevant departments of the pilot leading group of the national park(建立国家公园体制试点领导小组), relevant departments of pilot provinces and cities, the ecological research center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, Renmin University, China University of Political Science and Law, as well as experts from Tsinghua University, The Nature Conservancy, research institutions, and international organizations.