China has made a new announcement which will come as very welcome news to ornithologists all over the world.
The Chinese government has put a stop to all ‘business-related coastal land reclamation‘, which means that some endangered birds will now have their migratory habitat back.
The intertidal mudflats which exist on China’s East coast are a vital stopover for birds who take the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The new ruling signifies an end to the ongoing habitat loss which has plagued many species for years.
Xinhua, China’s largest English language news site, made the announcement earlier this week.
“China has introduced its toughest regulation on land reclamation along the country’s coastline, vowing to demolish illegally reclaimed land and stop approving general reclamation projects.
The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said Wednesday that it would demolish or shut down all illegally reclaimed land and illegally established waste discharge outlets that damage the marine environment.
Lin Shanqing, deputy director of the SOA, said at a press conference that reclamation projects that did not concern the national economy and people’s livelihoods would not be approved in future.”
Lin Shanqing was further quoted, detailing how the moves would effect China Birdlife in particular. It was also added that ‘the administration would also stop giving an annual land reclamation quota to provinces’.
“Reclamation projects that have been approved but have not started and do not comply with the current policy will all be stopped,” Lin said. “Using reclaimed land for commercial real estate development is prohibited and all reclamation activities in the Bohai Sea area will be banned. Reclaimed land that has remain deserted for a long time will be confiscated.”
The news was followed up with an official post (in English) on the China State Council, which further outlined the necessity to restrict land reclamation, for the good of local wildlife and the environment:
“Gu Wu, head of the administration’s National Marine Inspection Office, said that in the past, land reclamation, to a certain extent, helped to boost economic development by mitigating the land shortage in coastal regions and providing space for public infrastructure and industry parks.
However, illegal and irregular reclamation activities caused a number of problems to marine ecosystems and lawful businesses, she said.
Gu said that those effects have become a major public concern, so the administration decided that reclamation would be closely looked at in its annual inspection last year.
Four coastal provinces－Liaoning, Hebei, Jiangsu, Fujian－as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and the island province of Hainan were subject to reclamation inspections in 2017.”
Environmental measures such as this can only come as great news for environmentalists and wildlife conservationists worldwide. This follows other recent steps taken by China, which aim to make the country greener and cleaner.