Image of Photo of Prof Zhiyun Ouyang

China biodiversity and conservation: status, challenges and opportunities

The China Forum lecture on Wednesday 12 October 2022 was delivered by Professor Zhiyun Ouyang, Professor and Director at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Professor Ouyang's lecture examined four issues. First, he analysed the extent of biodiversity in China, noting China's important role within global ecology. China is one of the world's mega-countries in terms of its biodiversity. Second, he examined China's policies for species conservation, including analysis of hotspots for species conservation, the changing composition of China's eco-system services and the development of protected areas. Third, he analysed the main challenges facing conservation in China, including identification of the species in danger of extinction, and the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation, low eco-system quality, and climate change. Finally, Professor Ouyang examined the integration of biodiversity into government policy innovation, including the Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP) accounting framework, which provides a quantitative measure of progress in biodiversity conservation efforts.

The Q&A session addressed the following issues: the role of NGOs in China's biodiversity policies and practices; the role of scientists and young people in shaping China's biodiversity policies; the relationship between GEP and other quantitative measures of development, including GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and HDI (Human Development Index), in the evaluation of government officials at both the central and local level; the role of China's National Academy of Sciences in the provision of data used to evaluate environmental performance; the relative importance of 'inputs' and 'outputs' in quantitative measures of environmental performance; the role of national parks in China's biodiversity landscape; China's communication with the rest of the world about its environmental policies and practice; the relationship between environmental scientists in China and those in the rest of the world; and the role of insects and aquaculture within China's biodiversity policies and practice.

Dr Zhiyun Ouyang is the director and professor of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the President of the Ecological Society of China, and international member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Dr Zhiyun Ouyang is an ecologist recognised for his work on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and natural capital, and for advancing pioneering, science-based policies for sustainable development. He led the National Ecosystem Assessment and Ecosystem Services Mapping in China, identifying the critical regions for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services at the national scale. His work has underpinned innovation in China’s ecological protection policies, including key ecological function conservation areas (EFCAs) of the country; ecological protection red line planning; and new systems of national parks. His work is a key basis for investments in improving both natural capital and human well-being, such as through ecological financial transfer payments (ETPs), which have benefited hundreds of millions of rural people living in ecologically important areas. He has pioneered a new metric, Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP), to evaluate nature’s contributions to people, and to track the performance of policies designed to secure people and nature. GEP is now widely used in China, has been adopted as an accounting indicator for valuation of ecosystem asset and services by the United Nations Statistical Commission.