Species: There were 6,266 vertebrate species in China, which accounted for about 10% of the world's total. China had over 30,000 higher plants, and ranked the third in the world in terms of the richness of plant species after Malaysia and Brazil. Among the 750 gymnosperm species in 71 genera of 12 plant families, China had over 240 species in 34 genera of 11 plant families. The total number of species of conifer trees in China accounted for 37.8% of the world total.
Current Status and Changes of Endangered Species: Since the 1980s, China had strengthened the conservation of wild animals and plants, strengthened the protection of endangered species, promoted the building of species protection system, devoted great effort to cracking down on illegal hunting, and conducted relevant scientific research. These actions had achieved remarkable results. The trend that most wild animal and plant resources identified and designated for national protection were deteriorating had been effectively curbed. The species communities were gradually becoming stable. A significant number of endangered species were not only stable but also increasing in their numbers, such as giant panda, red ibis, takin, Chinese alligator, metasequoia, and dove tree. However, generally speaking, due to reasons such as habitat destruction and environmental pollution, China's wild life resources were not sufficient, and the problems caused by over-use were still very serious.
Wetland: China had 65.94 million hectares of wetland (not including rivers and ponds), which accounted for 10% of the world's total. China ranked the first in Asia and the fourth in the world in terms of wetland area. Among the 65.94 million hectares of wetland, 25.94 million hectares were natural wetland (including 11.97 million hectares of marsh swamps, 9.1 million hectares of natural lakes, 2.17 million hectares of tidal beaches, and 2.7 million hectares of shallow sea areas), and 40 million hectares were artificial wetland (including 2 million hectares of reservoir, and 38 million hectares of rice field). According to preliminary statistics, China had 101 genera of wetland vegetation, among which 94 genera were vascular bundles. Among the higher plants on China's wetlands, there were over 100 endangered species. In the coastal wetlands, there were approximately 8,200 biological species, among which 5,000 were plant species and 3,200 were animal species. In the inland wetlands, there were approximately 1,548 higher plants and over 1,500 higher animals. China had over 770 freshwater fish species or subspecies, including many kinds of migratory fishes which reproduce in the special environment provided by wetlands. China's wetlands had a rich variety of birds. Among the 57 kinds of endangered birds in Asia, 31 kinds (54%) were found in China's wetlands. Among the 166 kinds of geese and ducks in the world, 50 kinds (30%) were found in China's wetlands. Among the 15 kinds of cranes in the world, 9 kinds had been recorded in China's wetlands.
Countermeasures and Actions:
Nature Reserves: China had established 1,999 nature reserves of various kinds and levels, covering a total area of 143.98 million hectares (among which 139.75 million hectares were land area and 6.03 million hectares were marine area) which was approximately 14.4% of China's territory. Compared with the previous year, the number of nature reserves had increased by 242 (or 13.8%), and the area of nature reserves had increased by 11.031 million hectares (or 8.3%). Among existing nature reserves, 226 were national-level nature reserves covering a total area of 88.713 million hectares. In 2003, 38 new national-level nature reserves were approved.
Wildlife Protection Zones: By the end of 2003, 2,553 hunting ban zones were designated, covering a total area of 38.258 million hectares. China had 20 "Internationally Important Wetlands", covering an area of 3.03 million hectares.
The Ministerial Coordination Conference on the Conservation of Biological Resources:
As approved by the State Council, SEPA and 16 other agencies established the Ministerial Coordination Conference on the Conservation of Biological Resources in June 2003 to coordinate the conservation of biological species and resources. Meanwhile, the "National Biological Species and Resource Conservation Experts Committee", which consisted of 17 experts, was established. Between September and December 2003, SEPA and 13 other agencies conducted inspections on the enforcement of biological resource conservation laws in 12 provinces.
Protection of Wetland Biodiversity: By the end of 2002, 535 wetland protection zones had been established in the seven major river basins (including the Yangtze River Basin among others), covering a total area of 16 million hectares and enabling nearly 40% of all natural wetlands and 33 kinds of animals prescribed for key national protection to be protected. In order to promote rare and endangered waterfowls, China had listed 11 kinds of waterfowls for level-one key national protection, and 22 kinds of waterfowls for national level-two protection. For certain rare and endangered species, not only in situ protection measures within the protection zones were taken, but artificial reproduction measures were also adopted. Protection zones or breeding centers had been established for Chinese alligators, Chinese sturgeon, Dabry's sturgeon, white sturgeon, white-fin sturgeon, big salamander, and other endangered aquatic species. The number of Chinese alligators in the Anhui Chinese Alligators Breeding Center had reached 8000. China had taken the lead in the scientific research about Chinese alligators, had been successful in the artificial breeding of Chinese alligators, Chinese sturgeon, and Myxocyprinus asiaticus, and had made significant progress in the raising and training of big salamanders, green turtle, and palea steindachneri, as well other relevant scientific areas.
Wetland Surveys and Related Scientific Research: The State Forestry Administration and other relevant agencies and research institutions have conducted scientific research on wetlands, such as on their surveys, classifications, evolution, ecological conservation, pollution prevention and control, and rational utilization and management. A national survey on wetland resources was conducted to get a basic understanding of wetland resources. There had also been long-term and in-depth research on ecological systems such as swamps, lakes, mangroves, and coral reefs. A large amount of information had been accumulated through such research. A lot of research had also been done on endangered waterfowls, such as their geographical distribution, population, characteristics, raising and breeding, risk factors and conservation strategy. Chinese experts had also acquired deep understanding of the migratory activities of Chinese birds, and particularly waterfowls through bird banding.
The Prevention and Control of Invasive Alien Species: In 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture established the "Office for the Management of Invasive Alien Species" and the "Center for the Prevention and Control of Invasive Alien Species". Experimental projects were implemented in Liaoning Province, Kaiyuan City (Yunnan Province), Tengchong County (Yunnan Province), Xichang City (Sichuan Province), Ningnan City (Sichuan Province), and Renhe District of Panzhihua City (Sichuan Province) to eliminate invasive alien species such as bitterweed and crofton weed. 8 million people participated in activities for eliminating bitterweed anc crofton weed. 19.2 billion bitterweeds had been elimated on 860,000 hectares. In key areas, the elimination rate of bitterweeds was over 80%. 4,000 hectares of crofton weed had also been eliminated.
Building of Ecological Demonstration Zones, Ecological Counties, Ecological Cities, and Ecological Provinces: By the end of 2003, SEPA had approved 484 national experimental ecological demonstration zones. SEPA promulgated Indicators for the Building of Ecological Counties, Cities, and Provinces, in order to promote the guidance for and management of the building of ecological counties, cities, and provinces. There had been 82 ecological demonstration zones which passed examinations and inspections. Hainan, Jinlin, Heilongjiang, Fujian, Zhejiang, Shandong, Anhui, and Jiangsu were engaged in building "ecological provinces".