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Acting together to protect biodiversity

2019-10-15GoldenBeeZhou Jinfeng0

Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation
After experiencing primitive civilization, agricultural civilization and industrial civilization, today human beings have entered the age of ecological civilization. The core idea of ecological civilization is the harmonious coexistence between human and nature. At present, biodiversity loss and climate change have become the two major crises caused by human beings' unrestrained taking from the nature. Industrial civilization is unsustainable, so it is imperative to practice ecological civilization.

It is reported that one million species will go extinct around the world in the next decade. This is the sixth biological extinction that is taking place now, and human beings are experiencing this process. The second issue is climate change. The issue is not that humans cannot stand a temperature rise by 2℃, nor humans will be submerged because of a temperature rise by 2℃. The consequences are far more serious than that, because the habitats of many species will be fundamentally destroyed and human habitats will not survive either after a temperature rise by 2℃. Why should human beings enter the age of ecological civilization? It is because industrial civilization has led to a very fast speed of biodiversity loss, even faster than the previous five biological extinctions. This is the fundamental factor for human beings to enter the age of ecological civilization.
Three years ago, I proposed the concept of China Conservation Area (CCAfa). The core of this system is to protect endangered species and their habitats. How can we protect them? It is required to mobilize local people, frontline volunteers, enterprises, grassroots government officials and other powers that can be mobilized to participate in the action of protection. Take the conservation area of Relict Gulls as an example. Relict Gulls are a national first-class protected animal. Due to the reduction of coastal wetlands of Bohai Sea and Huanghai Sea, the habitats of Relict Gulls have become very small, mainly concentrated in the remaining 5% of the natural coast in Tianjin. However, this only wintering ground for Relict Gulls is once again destroyed by humans who dig for clams and compete with the gulls for food. After learning about the situation, we urgently contacted the Tianjin government department, including the public security department, and also sent letters to the video platforms that spread the video of gathering seafood on the beach, suggesting them to delete such videos. This incident has aroused the attention of CCTV, Dragon TV, Tianjin Daily and other media. Finally, the Tianjin government put a ban on clam digging in this gull habitat, thus the habitat of Relict Gulls has been protected. Now our foundation has established more than 120 China Conservation Areas throughout the country, fully mobilizing the power of volunteers and people, constantly discovering problems and solving problems. We often ask, how can we do a good job in ecological civilization construction? In my opinion, such practical actions of protecting species and their habitats are in line with the requirements of ecological civilization.
In addition, it should be emphasized that with the development of science and technology, the society, especially the governments and enterprises, also need to change their minds and raise their awareness. For example, Shanghai Nanhui Dongtan Wetland wants to plant trees for land greening since the mudflat is not beautiful. Some people say that this is returning farmland to forests. We advocate returning farmland to wetland, because the mudflat itself is a natural state of the coastal wetland. It is eco-friendly in itself, not just the trees that are eco-friendly. For another example, is wind power eco-friendly? Wind power is clean energy, but some wind power facilities have destroyed habitats, affecting bird migration and local ecosystem. So it is not eco-friendly, but destructive to ecological civilization. Another example is hydropower. Is it eco-friendly to build a hydropower station in the Yalong River Basin of Sichuan? No, it isn't. It is destructive to ecological civilization. We called off this project, because this dam will seriously affect the water ecology after it is built. There is also a very precious and endangered plant called Acer Pentaphyllum Diels, with only several hundred wild populations around the world, which will be submerged after the hydropower station is built. There is a hydropower project in Indonesia, but the construction of the hydropower station will affect the habitat of pongo (an orangutan species). This pongo is a newly discovered specie, and only less than a thousand of them live in Indonesia at present. The construction of the hydropower station will seriously threaten the survival of pongo. So what is green? What is ecological civilization? With the deepening of scientific cognition and the development of the times, we have to make some changes.
The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) was formerly known as the China Elk Foundation. It was founded in 1985 by three vice chairmen of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee at that time, with an aim to reintroduce the original species of elk in China and undertake the mission of restoring and reviving this species. Now that this mission has been accomplished, the Foundation has changed to its current name to adapt to the development of the times and meet the needs for the construction of ecological civilization. But we have to do much more than that. In the era of ecological civilization, with the recovery of the elk population, we will continue to study how to make them better return to nature, achieve genetic diversity through interaction with the natural environment, and restore its unique ecological attributes.

To protect biodiversity in the era of ecological civilization, we advocate the "Nature-based Solution" (NbS) and "Human-based Solution" (HbS). NbS focuses on protecting biodiversity in a way that respects nature and achieving the sustainable development of the society. HbS starts with the people, cares about the nature, and faces the climate and biodiversity crisis. The biodiversity crisis and climate crisis are mainly caused by human activities. To solve these problems, everyone should do their own parts to influence the decision of others, enterprises and governments. Only people-based protection can be passed on in history. This is part of biodiversity conservation and also part of Xi Jinping's thoughts on ecological civilization.
The rise or fall of a civilization is closely tied to its relationship with nature, and a country can further thrive after civilization thrives. The 70-year development course is a beginning, and the follow-up development of ecological civilization is still a long way to go. We still have a lot of work to do.

(Translated by GoldenBee, the Chinese version of this article is issued on China Sustsinability Tribune wechat account)
(Images in this article are from the Internet)
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