Under the partnership agreement between the Paulson Institute and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a series of sixteen research projects was commissioned between 2015 and 2018 to draw valuable insights from a wide range of researchers in China and the U.S. about national parks and how they are managed. These research projects covered all significant elements of China’s national park development initiative, including governance structure, legal framework, financing mechanism, system planning, management of natural and cultural resources, and concessions for commercial operations and drew on valuable experience from six exemplary countries – Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
The results of these research projects were publicly released on November 11, 2018. As the first and most comprehensive publication of its kind, the 14-volume book set marked a significant milestone towards creating a unified and effective national park system in China.
This book series informed the development of China’s Overall Plan for Establishing a National Park System, issued on September 2017. On June 26, 2019, the Chinese government released the Guidelines for Establishment of a Protected Area System with National Parks at the Core, signaling a transformation and streamlining of the management of protected areas in China.
The Paulson Institute is grateful to more than one hundred contributors to the research projects from national and international organizations, such as Tsinghua University, Beijing University, the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Research Center of the State Council, South-North Institute for Sustainable Development, Global Parks, Lincoln University and Chico Mendes Institute of Biodiversity Conservation.
Open Full Project Details
Highlights of the policy recommendations from these research projects include:
Consolidation of governance
China would benefit from streamlining its more than a dozen categories of protected areas; a systematic management system for all protected areas should be established. Several aspects of this recommendation have been implemented since 2018, and the National Park Service was established in the National Forest and Grassland Administration.
Regional spatial planning:
Based on the importance and representativeness of China’s biodiversity, natural landscapes and ecosystems (including their ecological services), 84 potential candidate sites (both terrestrial and marine) were identified for national park designation in the future.
Without active legal instruments in place, it is not guaranteed that China’s protected areas will be effectively managed. It is imperative to pass a dedicated national law for a unified administration of the new protected area system with national parks at the core, plus other necessary regulations and policies, providing statutory guidelines for establishing and managing national parks.
A sufficient and consistent flow of funding is critical for the success of the national park and protected area system, and the central government should take significant responsibility for financing the system.
Integration of different planning efforts:
Planning for national parks should be well integrated with the national and regional economic development planning process and coordinated with other land use and urban development plans.
Concession for commercial operations:
Only limited, necessary, and appropriate visitor infrastructure and services should be allowed inside the national parks. Most of the visitor services and facilities should be provided at nearby gateway communities. Park Authority should define the scope and types of concession allowed in the park, and manage the selection and operation of the concessionaires strictly, to minimize negative impacts on the resource and environment of the parks.
Open Full Project Details