Integrating priority areas and ecological corridors into national network for conservation planning in China, Liang et al. 2018

Compendium Volume 4 Number 2 January 2021

In contrast to the Gao et al. [2017] article (above), this study maps out an ecological network spanning the entire nation of China. Most such ecological corridor analysis has previously focused at the local and regional levels, according to the authors. They note that in addition to protecting biodiversity, ecological corridors (ECs) purify air, regulate climate, and “realize the movement of material, energy, and information in the ecosystem” [Liang 2018: 23].

This study identifies a couple of dozen high priority areas for conservation based on the existing diversity and quality of the landscape. These high priority areas encompassed seven ecotones (broadleaf forest, coniferous forest, shrub, herbaceous plant, sparse vegetation, wetland, water body), while built up areas such as cities were low priorities. The authors mapped these conservation priority zones against existing formally protected areas (which cover 15% of the country), finding only 19% overlap and, thus, revealing extensive conservation gaps.

The majority of China’s nature reserves were established without a clear planning framework, and couldn’t maximize efficiency of conservation targets. … important zones for species migration are not considered as conservation goals in the current nature reserve system [Liang 2018: 26].

The ecological corridors were identified by examining the pathways with the least amount of potential resistance (such as built infrastructure) to animals moving along them. The shortest routes were not necessarily chosen given the need to bypass urban areas. The map created through this study offers useful information for national conservation planning.

From a long-term conservation perspective, in view of the rapid habitat loss and biodiversity reduction, the ecological network represents a valuable tool to protect the biotope[5] and their ecological functions in China. In this regard, our results show the importance and need to develop a national protection network maintaining connectivity among them in order to achieve high cost efficiency [Liang 2018: 27].

Liang, Jie, et al., 2018, Integrating priority areas and ecological corridors into a national network for conservation planning in China, Science of the Total Environment 626,  

[5] A biotope is an area defined by particular environmental conditions (such as “littoral [coastal] muddy sand”) that define the habitat of a particular biological community [Olenin & Ducratoy 2006].

For the full PDF version of the compendium issue where this article appears, visit Compendium Volume 4 Number 2 January 2021