China strives to advance ecological civilization with world

By Yan Huan, People’s Daily

Protecting endangered animal and plant resources and keeping ecological balance concerns the existence and development of mankind, and is also an important indicator that measures the civilization progress of countries and nations.

The development of an ecological civilization is attached with high importance in China, and is used to guide the country’s development. China is making coordinated efforts to advance biodiversity governance and actively promoting international cooperation on wildlife protection, so as to jointly build a shared future for all life on Earth and chart the course for global ecological civilization.

Adenia angulosa, Striga asiatica and Zehneria japonica, these obscure terms are all important findings by Chinese researchers from the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center. In November this year, they once again discovered a new plant species in a forest in western Kenya, which was believed to bear significant importance for rebuilding the phylogenetic framework of the species’ genus.

The Sino-Africa Joint Research Center is the first major comprehensive science and education organization co-established by China and Africa. Five years ago, the center, together with the National Museums of Kenya, jointly started the compilation of the Flora of Kenya. It was the first time for Chinese scientists to compile a flora for a foreign country. The project is expected to take 10 to 15 years and record over 7,000 plant species in Kenya.

The research is an arduous task, as scientists have to go deep in the mountains and forests, where they are facing not only poor transportation, but also possible attacks by large wild animals.

“Even the small ticks are a big trouble. Tick bites were found on the bodies of the researchers every time they finished field work,” said Wang Qingfeng, an expert from the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center.

The center has blazed a new trail for the exploration of plant diversity in Africa, said African researcher Geoffrey Mwachala with the National Museums of Kenya. Africa enjoys diverse plants which are of unique value for research, he introduced. However, the continent is also limited by the lack of relevant professionals and technologies, the man added. The Chinese assistance to help Kenya launch studies and researches is of huge significance, as many findings have filled the research gap of plant resources in East Africa, he told People’s Daily.

Fruitful results have been achieved since the center was established 8 years ago. It initiated 40 joint research programs, launched 60 major field investigations with African partners, published 8 academic works, and released 321 research papers. Besides, it also cultivated 222 African postgraduate students, and trained over 600 management personnel and professionals.

The center also actively cooperates with Zimbabwe and Madagascar to implement demonstration systems of wildlife protection, launching scientific research with local scientists in nature reserves and major areas that house diverse species.

Munesu Munodawafa, Permanent Secretary of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, remarked that China has offered firm support for Zimbabwe’s biodiversity studies and wildlife protection, which has ushered in a new era for Africa’s wildlife protection.

When it comes to the cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife, China is also calling for international cooperation and joint efforts from all sides, making important contribution to the protection of global ecological civilization.

Two years ago, 30 global internet firms, including Chinese companies, co-established the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Members of the coalition deleted over 300 million pieces of information about illegal animal trade in the past two years.

China was the rotating chair of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering from July 1 last year to June 60 this year. It helped global countries trace illicit cash for wildlife trade, as well as discover and crack down upon major criminal gangs seeking profits from the illegal trade.

China is striving to build an internet environment where illegal trade of wildlife can’t hide any longer, said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.