Posted on January 9, 2023
China’s Shan-Shui initiative, which translates to “mountains and rivers,” was recently recognized as one of the ten World Restoration Flagships at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting held in Montreal, Canada.
The initiative combines dozens of large-scale projects nationwide to restore ecosystems, including mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the Shan-Shui initiative sees all ecosystems as a part of a community of all life on Earth, and has restored millions of hectares of land through relentless efforts.
The Shan-Shui initiative is a signature project explaining how China practices the vision that “Mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, and grasslands are a life community.”
Since 2016, the country has implemented 44 projects under the initiative at critical ecological spots in the Three Eco-zones and Four Shelterbelts – the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Eco-zone, the Yellow River Eco-zone, the Yangtze River Eco-zone, the Northeast Shelterbelt, the North Shelterbelt, the South Shelterbelt, and the Coastal Shelterbelt.
The Shan-Shui initiative aims to launch integrated protection and systematic governance of all ecological elements in different regions, and strives for holistic and comprehensive ecological benefits.
In 2020, multiple government departments jointly issued a guideline that regulates the implementation of Shan-Shui projects according to five principles, such as “prioritizing ecological conservation and pursuing green development,” and “integrating natural restoration as the main and artificial restoration as a supplement.”
Multiple regions in China are at the forefront of implementing the Shan-Shui initiative. They have opted for technical models according to local conditions including ecological degradation, damage and resilience of ecosystems, creating valuable experiences for the construction of a beautiful China.
The Shan-Shui initiative has created huge benefits. For instance, the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River in Hubei province, which was once surrounded by chemical engineering enterprises, is now seeing the return of Yangtze finless porpoises.
So far, China has completed ecological protection and restoration of more than 3.5 million hectares. It plans to restore ten million hectares of vital ecosystems by 2030. The country has achieved a series of innovation outcomes in organization models, implementation methods and technical standards.