How often do you think about your relationship with China? If you’re anything like me before WILD launched the WILD China Project 18 months ago, probably not a lot. Even though we are all enmeshed in an intimate market-based relationship that we experience personally nearly every time we visit a grocery store or shop for goods online, the fact is that our awareness of that relationship is low. And because we are not aware of how closely we are linked with China, we may not be taking full advantage of the opportunities in this relationship to collectively improve the way we and China relate to nature.
It is because of these opportunities and the many benefits a strong East-West conservation relationship could yield for nature that WILD initiated and continues the WILD China project with our partners and colleagues here and in China. Coordinating with China has immediate global implications for nature, implications that could significantly reduce the pressure placed on our planet’s fragile biodiversity. With deeper and stronger conservation ties between China and the West, both partners can leverage China’s status as a world player to provide substantive relief for Earth’s threatened wild places.
The China Potential
China’s proven ability to accomplish rapid and transformative change can and should be harnessed for the benefit of nature. In the last 30 years China achieved something unprecedented. By moving 500 million people into the middle class, with services, health care, and prospects that make possible healthier and more dignified living, China demonstrated the potency of its political will. But the short-term gains in quality of life came at the cost of long term losses to biodiversity, and a deemphasis on important basic characteristics of ecological sustainability and relationship with wild nature. But China is aware of these shortcomings and their implications for the health of the Chinese people and the planet. Recently, they addressed them by developing at the national policy of “Ecocivilization” prepare for a future with respect for wildlife and places.
The WILD China goal is to make a substantive contribution to Ecocivilization. We aim to create, in partnership with our many Chinese colleagues and partners, the practical steps and elements required to create a modern-day concept of wilderness as a protected area – a concept which does not exist in China despite its current drive to create a coordinated National Park System – something also never before existing in China. We will compliment and add substance to this, by working upon the deep, thousands of years old, Chinese philosophical roots of human relationship with wild nature.
Meetings, agreements, and planning all part of progress on our WILD China Project,
with Chinese and other collaborators working towards WILD11 China.
Our results in 2017 have been strong and targeted, and are just the first of many more:
- Science – We stimulated the first “National Inventory of Wilderness in China”, overseen by Professor YANG Rui at Tsinghua University (Beijing)
- Policy – Again with Professor Yang, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to wilderness concept was published.
- Culture – Working with China Institute for Strategy and Management, we invited the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson, WY) to open discussions on a major, public, global wildlife art exhibition series and museum in China.
- Wilderness Management – Working with a University in South China, we aim to have translated into Mandarin the first ever global guidelines for wilderness management (launched in 2016 after 2 years of development by the IUCN’s Wilderness Specialist Group, chaired by WILD).
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