From 6-9 November, DCZ science coordinator Eva Sternfeld participated in the 13th Sino-German Workshop on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Jointly organized by the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES), the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), and the UNEP Integrated Ecosystem Management Partnership, the workshop was held in the National Park of Wuzhishan, Hainan Province. On three days, scientists from both countries exchanged views on latest developments in the protection of forest and wetland ecosystems in the context of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The event also included excursions to the Hainan Tropical National Rainforest Park in Wuzhishan as well as a visit to the Dongzhaigang Mangrove Nature Reserve near Haikou.
In his opening speech, Thomas Graner (vice president of BfN) outlined the challenges of the ongoing biodiversity crisis in Germany, which can be partly attributed to climate change but even more to monoculture forestry and intensified agriculture. Speakers from China highlighted China’s efforts to fulfill the ambitious goals of the Kunming/Montreal Framework that aims at preserving 30% of the global landmass for biodiversity protection.
QUAN Zhanjun, director of the Institute of Ecology of CRAES, presented China’s efforts in protecting biodiversity such as reserving 810 counties for ecological restoration. He also mentioned the National Park Program through which China has allocated 2 billion RMB (300 million EUR) for the so called ‘Mountain-River Program’.
Professor QUAN further mentioned relevant policies such as the Ecological Protection Plan, the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan, as well as the Biodiversity Law. The most important strategic concept is the ecological conservation red line, defining zones of ecological importance throughout China and specific requirements for protection and the establishment of cross border protected areas. He also mentioned the ecological challenges China is facing such as high pressure on aquatic ecology, urban expansion, and high pressure on water resources in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.
Professor Pierre Ibisch from the University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE) thanked China for the initiative to push forward the Montreal-Kunming GBF. However, he also reminded the audience that prior attempts to achieve ambitious goals failed and showed a rather bleak picture of the situation in Europe. There are numerous barriers for effective eco-restoration, Professor Ibisch explained.
Even more important than restoration, because less expensive, is the conservation of habitats, he stressed. According to Ibisch, at present the situation in the EU is not improving any more mainly because of the impacts of climate change. But human factors play a role as well with intensive agriculture being a key driver of ongoing biodiversity loss. Ibisch also shared shocking photos of dying forests in Germany, caused by pests such as bark beetles, heat waves, and declining groundwater tables.
WANG Guoqin, program manager at UNEP-IEMP, introduced two programs supported by her organization in the field of South-South cooperation on eco-system restoration and the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN). She stressed the importance of empowerment of local communities and to have them participate in restoration efforts. “People and indigenous knowledge are part of the eco-system”, she emphasized.
Daniel Johnson from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research looked at the potential economic benefits and how to measure the benefits of ecosystem services as well as the external negative costs of degraded eco-systems.
According to MU Xiaodong, director of the Hainan Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Hainan province is a pilot site for ecological civilization. He introduced Hainan’s strategies and achievements in biodiversity conservation. Hainan features the largest preserved area of natural tropical rainforest in China, covering 12% of the island.
Furthermore, almost 30% of Hainan’s land mass are classified as protected zones according to the requirement of the ecological red line. He mentioned that thanks to the strict protection of the reserves, the highly endangered population of the Hainan Gibbon is recovering in recent years. Mu also referred to Hainan’s contribution to food security as its favorable climate is turning the island into a Silicon Valley of seed industry.
CHEN Cheng, post-doc researcher at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), introduced to German compensation schemes such as Natura 2000, agri-environmental climate measures (AECM), and the eco-account as well as two Chinese compensation schemes.
In her final conclusions, Kati Wenzel (BfN) on behalf of the organizers stressed that it is important to focus on conservation which is less expensive than restoration. For eco-restoration it is important to get local communities on board. Furthermore, monitoring of the restoration process needs to be assured.