Ministry of Natural Resources touts decade of green gains

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China managed to retain 1.8 billion me (120 million hectares) of its arable land and protected 30% of its total landmass under the “ecological red line” system, government spokesmen said on Monday (September 19th).

They were speaking at a series of press conferences on the government’s achievements since the 18th Party Congress in 2012.

The 20th Party Congress will be held on October 16.

At the press conference, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) said the achievements ensure the supply of high-quality natural resources, including agricultural resources, for national development.

DNR Vice Minister Zhuang Shaoqin said the much-discussed system of “ecological red lines” now covers areas with the most important ecological functions and particular ecological sensitivity.

Zhuang also mentioned the ecological restoration projects that have taken place in many former mining areas, as well as sea, coast and mangrove restoration projects.

These projects, along with reforestation initiatives across the country, have contributed to the carbon sequestration function of China’s landmass. According to the MRN, Chinese soils now contain up to 11.4 billion tons of carbon, among the largest in the world.

China launched a farmland conservation system in 2006, when the central government set the minimum level of 1.8 billion mu of arable land the country must conserve to feed its people. Through constructions and urban developments that once threatened this goal, it has been defended, the MNR said.

“Ecological civilization” has been at the center of Xi Jinping’s decade in power since the 18th Party Congress. The progress outlined Monday by the MNR and other departments shows how central government technocrats are interpreting and implementing Xi’s call to action, striking a balance between economic productivity and environmental protection.

Learn more about ecological civilization on China Dialogue here.

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