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China launches strategy to protect plant diversity

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Hoping to protect its more than 5,000 endangered species of plants, China has launched an ambitious "National Strategy for Plant Conservation". China is home to more than 30,000 native plant species, of which about one-fifth are considered at risk.

The strategy, unveiled earlier this week in London, will focus on protecting plant species threatened by habitat destruction and unsustainable collecting. One major task of the strategy will be getting three government agencies - the State Forestry Administration, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the State Environmental Protection Administration - to coordinate their efforts on the project.

Some of the plans under the strategy include:

• Plans to revert nearly 15 million hectares of farmland to forest in the next 3 years, an area of land that is bigger than England.

• Calling for a complete halt to logging over vast stretches of forest in the upper reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.

• Banning all potentially polluting development projects near key areas of biodiversity.

• An aggressive crack down on illegal logging and plant harvesting nationwide.

• Huge state investment into scientific research and management of ecological reserves.

Yunnan is one of the world's most biodiverse areas, making it an important part of this new national strategy - the Kunming Botanical Garden and the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden helped draft the strategy. For more details about China's National Strategy for Plant Conservation, view the project's media kit here (MS Word document).

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