(Yicai Global) Feb. 21 -- Nature reserves and local governments guilty of illegalities and irregularities need to take care. Their officials will be called in, reported, supervised and urged to rectify, said Cheng Lifeng, head of nature and ecology conservation at the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). Efforts to apportion responsibility will also intensify. A list of problems leftover from history must be made and local governments will be urged to take corrective measures within a prescribed period.
"The biggest problem facing nature reserves now is the significant conflict between protection and development. Although the central government has repeatedly stressed that protecting natural resources and ecology is an impassable bottom line, frequent illegal acts inflict damage on them," Cheng replied when Yicai Global asked at the its monthly press briefing how the MEP will stiffen comprehensive regulation of nature reserves and what its next arrangements are.
Various unreasonable development activities are increasingly encroaching upon ecological space, eroding natural reserves, weakening their functions and lowering their value, Cheng said. Illegalities and irregularities involving the core areas and buffer zones of natural reserves are serious violations of laws and are strictly forbidden, he also noted, pledging that development and construction activities in nature reserves' core areas and buffer zones will be forcefully eliminated.
The MEP will conduct remote monitoring of state-level nature reserves twice a year and of provincial-level nature reserves once each year, Cheng said. The MEP will also perform spot checks of remote monitoring and field inspection results and of illegalities and irregularities in investigations when appropriate. Local officials who are in grievous dereliction of their duty to conduct checks, fail to timely report findings, engage in fraudulent investigative acts or fail to impose strict penalties will be sanctioned.
The MEP conducted remote monitoring of human activities in all of the 446 state-level nature reserves in the first half of last year. This showed 3,780 additional human activities extending across an area of 2,339 square kilometers in 297 state-level nature reserves between 2013 and 2015. Some 1,466 new illegal activities were found in core and buffer areas, including 320 quarries, mines, energy facilities, tourist amenities and farms.
Problems are especially acute in four state-level nature reserves, namely the Jilin Baishan Musk Deer Reserve, Hubei Jiugongshan Scenic Area, Guizhou Weining Caohai Grassland Nature Reserve and the Gansu Zhangye Heihe Wetland Reserve.