China is set to establish the country’s first national botanical garden in the capital Beijing, as the country steps up conservation efforts to better protect plant and animal biodiversity.
The new national botanical garden would focus on off-site conservation for plants and promote the systematic collection, preservation, high-level research, and sustainable use of different plant groups, according to the announcement published Tuesday by the State Council, China’s Cabinet. The project will be jointly developed by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Beijing municipal government.
“The garden will adhere to the principle of harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, helping to cultivate a respect for nature, and foremost, prioritize conservation,” the announcement said.
Research shows botanical gardens play a fundamental role in protecting plant diversity through conservation outside their natural habitats. China has nearly 200 botanical gardens for plants and trees across the country, preserving more than 23,000 flora species, according to a white paper on biodiversity conservation published by the State Council last year.
However, experts said that China lacks overall coordination in off-site conservation for plants at the national level — while some regions haven’t fully implemented conservation programs, others face scarcity of plants relocated for conservation purposes. A 2017 study of over 35,000 species of wild higher plants — those with vascular tissues and tend to grow larger in size — in China showed about 15% to 20% were threatened, with 40 species already extinct.
The approval of the national botanical garden comes three months after China announced it would launch the initiative in cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)