As the third biggest country of the world, itsvarious geographical features and climates allowed China to have diversenatural environments that provided suitable habitats for a large variety ofdifferent species, including a great number of unique endemic species, forexample, the giant panda.
However, under the influence of the activity of humanbeing, although China is regarded as one of the few countries with particularlyrich biodiversity in the whole world, it is also one of the countries with themost serious loss of biodiversity. In order to alleviate this problem, Chinesegovernment has adopted many measures, such as establishing nature reserve andformulating relevant laws. Nevertheless, we are still facing a lot ofchallenges that make the preservation of biodiversity a long-term process. As the worlds third biggest country, chinahas a vast territory.
With the total area of 9.6 million square kilometers, it stretchesover 5 time zones horizontally and several climatic zones longitudinally, whichare tropic, subtropic, and temperate zones; contains almost all terrains likeplain, plateau, mountain land, hill, desert, and basin. China also has numerousrivers and lakes. More than 50,000 rivers that have areas exceed 100 squarekilometers; more than 1,500 exceed 1,000 square kilometers. The most famousones are the Yangtze River, the third-longest river in the world, and theyellow river, known as “the mother river of the Chinese people”. The vastregion and these complex environments have provided China with various types ofterrestrial ecosystems such as forests, shrublands, grasslands and savannas,meadows, deserts and alpine tundra, and is subdivided into 599 sub-types due todifferent climatic and soil conditions.
There are also various types of marineand freshwater ecosystems. China is one of the most biodiversecountries, which has has more than 30,000 species of higher plants and 6,347species of vertebrates, about 10% and 14% of the total amount in the wholeworld respectively. About 17,300 species of the higher plants and 667 of thevertebrates are endemic species which are unique in china. Among the 15families and 850 species of gymnosperms in the world, there are 10 families andabout 250 species in China, making it the country with the most gymnosperms.Besides a large variety of wild species, China also has many cultivated ordomesticated species and their wild relatives.
There are more than 11,000 kindsof medicinal plants and 4215 kinds of pasture in total. As the origin of riceand soybeans, China has 50,000 and 20,000 species of the two cropsrespectively. China has several endemic species that arefamous all over the world.
And the most famous among these species is the giantpanda, which is even been used as the logo of WWF, the global conservationorganization. The giant panda species was once been listed into the endangeredspecies by IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature and NaturalResources). It is nice to see that through continuous efforts made by Chinesegovernment and relevant international organizations, the giant panda specieshas been successfully erased from the list and became vulnerable species. Accordingto the most recent survey, the amount of adult wild panda in the whole world is1,864, which is 16.8% increased since the last survey in 2003.
However, it isstill difficult to save pandas out from the list of vulnerable species. IUCN had warned that the increasing situation of panda amount isjust a short-term phenomenon: since 1/3 of the bamboo amount will be decreaseby climate change in 80 years, the pandas will suffer famine and decrease inamount again. Another popular Chinese endemic species is the south china tiger, whichis already critically endangered. It used to be the oldest and most widelydistributed tiger species inChina, with the largest number. According to WFF, inthe early 1950s, the south china tiger population is used to be about 4,000.However, even if the Chinese government had banned hunting in 1979, thepopulation was only about 30-80 individuals by 1996.
Today they are mainlyfound zoos and haven’t been seen in the wild for more than 25 years. Some foreign expertsbelieve that the south china tiger species is already extinct in the wild. Thetroubling fact is that not only these two unique species, a lot of otherChinese endemic species are also endangered or already died out. The Baijidolphin, is one of the only 5 freshwater dolphin species that only could befound in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. It evenhas lasted longer in the world than the “live fossil” panda. However, until2002 the number of Baiji was estimated less than 50. The Baiji needs enoughfood to live on.
But human activities such as overfishing, water polluting andship movement make it even harder for the rest to survive without enough foodsupply. Chinese Alligator is the only alligator species that now exist in China,which is also critically endangered. There are 25 species of crocodiles in theworld, only two of them were in China: the Chinese alligators and Saltwatercrocodiles.
But as the world’s largest crocodile species, saltwater crocodileshave long been extinct hundreds of years ago. And the brown eared pheasant, a kind of large brown pheasant, had beenlisted into the “IUCN red list of threatened species” as well. There are many otherspecies that could have been unique to China’s and even to the whole world’s biodiversity, suchas the Chinese sturgeon, the black-necked crane and the Tibetan antelope.Nonetheless, most of them are under situations which are not optimistic. Asstatistics given above, according to Living Planet Report-China 2015, eventhough China is one of the most biodiverse countries, it is also one of thecountries with the most serious loss of biodiversity.
The number of terrestrial vertebratesin China has dropped by half during 1970-2010, while the ecological footprinthas doubled in the same period. China is facing severe ecological challenges. Theecological footprint is the measurement of the human demand for biologicalcapacity. That is an indicator of how many natural resources human haveconsumed during the living process and the development of the economy, and howlarge the geographical should be to meet the need of such an amount ofresources correspondingly. The unit of the ecological footprint is the globalhectare (gha). 1 global hectare is 1 hectare of productive space which is ableto produce the global average yield.
the executive director of WWF Beijingoffice, Li Lin said at a press conference that the results from the researchesare worrisome,. She believes that since the 1970s, the ecological footprint ofmankind has already exceeded the bio-carrying capacity of the earth. By 2010,the global per capita ecological footprint has reached 2.6 gha, while the percapita biocapacity was only 1.7 gha. In 2010, China’s per capita ecologicalFootprint was 2.
2 gha. “If everybody on this planet has the sameecological footprint as the average Chinese do, we need about 1.3 times of ourplanet to support our natural needs,” said Li Lin.