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SavingSpecies in China and Along the Belt and Road Initiative
November 20, 2018 I’ve just spent three weeks in China — my second visit this year. It’s part of an overall commitment to conserving China’s biodiversity that now accounts for a month to six weeks every year of my time. Why China? Well, in large part it’s because China is so important for its exceptional biodiversity. China holds 15% of the world’s vertebrate and 12% of its plant species. Its ecosystems range from permanent ice fields to tropical moist forests. Importantly, it is becoming an international leader. The International Convention of Biological Diversity’s Aichi targets specify quantitative targets for areas protected (target 11), stopping loss of natural habitats (target 5), and the extinction of threatened species (target 12), while underscoring the vital importance of the ecosystem services natural ecosystems provide (target 14). In 2020, China will host the Convention’s 15th Conference of Parties. Under President Xi, improving the environment has become a national priority. China is also looking outward, to developing infrastructure across Asia and particularly Southeast Asia. One of my reasons for being in China was to attend a conference, organised in part by Professor Binbin Li, a former Ph.D student of mine and now an assistant professor at Duke University Kunshan. Binbin and I have published key papers on identifying which areas of China are important for biodiversity. In particular, we have examined to what extent protecting giant pandas protects other species and also what places are important for species across Southeast Asia (SavingSpecies Vice President, Dr. Clinton Jenkins, […]