Critical Thinking

As have areas exceed 100 square kilometers; more

 

 

As the third biggest country of the world, its
various geographical features and climates allowed China to have diverse
natural environments that provided suitable habitats for a large variety of
different species, including a great number of unique endemic species, for
example, the giant panda. However, under the influence of the activity of human
being, although China is regarded as one of the few countries with particularly
rich biodiversity in the whole world, it is also one of the countries with the
most serious loss of biodiversity. In order to alleviate this problem, Chinese
government has adopted many measures, such as establishing nature reserve and
formulating relevant laws. Nevertheless, we are still facing a lot of
challenges that make the preservation of biodiversity a long-term process.

 

As the worlds third biggest country, china
has a vast territory. With the total area of 9.6 million square kilometers, it stretches
over 5 time zones horizontally and several climatic zones longitudinally, which
are tropic, subtropic, and temperate zones; contains almost all terrains like
plain, plateau, mountain land, hill, desert, and basin. China also has numerous
rivers and lakes. More than 50,000 rivers that have areas exceed 100 square
kilometers; more than 1,500 exceed 1,000 square kilometers. The most famous
ones are the Yangtze River, the third-longest river in the world, and the
yellow river, known as “the mother river of the Chinese people”. The vast
region and these complex environments have provided China with various types of
terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, shrublands, grasslands and savannas,
meadows, deserts and alpine tundra, and is subdivided into 599 sub-types due to
different climatic and soil conditions. There are also various types of marine
and freshwater ecosystems.

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China is one of the most biodiverse
countries, which has has more than 30,000 species of higher plants and 6,347
species of vertebrates, about 10% and 14% of the total amount in the whole
world respectively. About 17,300 species of the higher plants and 667 of the
vertebrates are endemic species which are unique in china. Among the 15
families and 850 species of gymnosperms in the world, there are 10 families and
about 250 species in China, making it the country with the most gymnosperms.
Besides a large variety of wild species, China also has many cultivated or
domesticated species and their wild relatives. There are more than 11,000 kinds
of medicinal plants and 4215 kinds of pasture in total. As the origin of rice
and soybeans, China has 50,000 and 20,000 species of the two crops
respectively.

 

 China has several endemic species that are
famous all over the world. And the most famous among these species is the giant
panda, which is even been used as the logo of WWF, the global conservation
organization. The giant panda species was once been listed into the endangered
species by IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources). It is nice to see that through continuous efforts made by Chinese
government and relevant international organizations, the giant panda species
has been successfully erased from the list and became vulnerable species. According
to the most recent survey, the amount of adult wild panda in the whole world is
1,864, which is 16.8% increased since the last survey in 2003. However, it is
still difficult to save pandas out from the list of vulnerable species. IUCN had warned that the increasing situation of panda amount is
just a short-term phenomenon: since 1/3 of the bamboo amount will be decrease
by climate change in 80 years, the pandas will suffer famine and decrease in
amount again.

 

  
Another popular Chinese endemic species is the south china tiger, which
is already critically endangered. It used to be the oldest and most widely
distributed tiger species in
China, with the largest number. According to WFF, in
the 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, the
population was only about 30-80 individuals by 1996. Today they are mainly
found zoos and haven’t been seen in the wild for more than 25 years. Some foreign experts
believe that the south china tiger species is already extinct in the wild.

 

  The
troubling fact is that not only these two unique species, a lot of other
Chinese endemic species are also endangered or already died out. The Baiji
dolphin, is one of the only 5 freshwater dolphin species that only could be
found in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. It even
has lasted longer in the world than the “live fossil” panda. However, until
2002 the number of Baiji was estimated less than 50. The Baiji needs enough
food to live on. But human activities such as overfishing, water polluting and
ship movement make it even harder for the rest to survive without enough food
supply. Chinese Alligator is the only alligator species that now exist in China,
which is also critically endangered. There are 25 species of crocodiles in the
world, only two of them were in China: the Chinese alligators and Saltwater
crocodiles. But as the world’s largest crocodile species, saltwater crocodiles
have long been extinct hundreds of years ago. 
And the brown eared pheasant, a kind of large brown pheasant, had been
listed into the “IUCN red list of threatened species” as well. There are many other
species that could have been unique to China’s and even to the whole world’s biodiversity, such
as the Chinese sturgeon, the black-necked crane and the Tibetan antelope.
Nonetheless, most of them are under situations which are not optimistic.

 

   As
statistics given above, according to Living Planet Report-China 2015, even
though China is one of the most biodiverse countries, it is also one of the
countries with the most serious loss of biodiversity. The number of terrestrial vertebrates
in China has dropped by half during 1970-2010, while the ecological footprint
has doubled in the same period. China is facing severe ecological challenges. The
ecological footprint is the measurement of the human demand for biological
capacity. That is an indicator of how many natural resources human have
consumed during the living process and the development of the economy, and how
large the geographical should be to meet the need of such an amount of
resources correspondingly. The unit of the ecological footprint is the global
hectare (gha). 1 global hectare is 1 hectare of productive space which is able
to produce the global average yield. the executive director of WWF Beijing
office, Li Lin said at a press conference that the results from the researches
are worrisome,. She believes that since the 1970s, the ecological footprint of
mankind 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 per
capita biocapacity was only 1.7 gha. In 2010, China’s per capita ecological
Footprint was 2.2 gha. “If everybody on this planet has the same
ecological footprint as the average Chinese do, we need about 1.3 times of our
planet to support our natural needs,” said Li Lin.

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