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China’s ecological conservation redline: A solution for future nature conservation


Globally, continuing environmental degradation is leading many countries to strengthen their systems of protected areas. However, this may not be sufficient to halt degradation and conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. To supplement its growing system of protected areas, the Chinese government is adopting a strategy of Ecological Conservation Redlines (ECRs). The ECRs define limits to human encroachment into ecologically sensitive and vulnerable areas and enforce strict conservation in order to guarantee national ecological security. ECRs are integrated in their design, are based on sound science, and provide a systemic management mechanism. ECR supports the formation of a comprehensive ecological conservation system that will lead to effective conservation for the most ecologically valuable and fragile ecosystems. The ECR approach seeks to improve China’s ecological security and guide nature conservation in the future. It could also provide a valuable example of an effective approach for improving nature conservation worldwide.

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This work was jointly supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0506606) and the Municipal Natural Science Foundation (BK20170112). We are very grateful to Dr. Jeffrey A. McNeely for going to great lengths in revising the language.

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Correspondence to Jixi Gao or Yan Wang.

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Gao, J., Wang, Y., Zou, C. et al. China’s ecological conservation redline: A solution for future nature conservation. Ambio 49, 1519–1529 (2020).

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  • Application
  • Delimitation
  • Ecological conservation redline
  • Nature conservation
  • Protected area system