China’s central government is planning to create a unified national parks management system seek to halt environmental damage within national parks.The new, unified system will cut across the local and departmental interests of existing operators so parks can be run to benefit the public. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)has already identified seven of China’s most famous tourist spots to test the new system (the Great Wall area, the mountain lakes of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, and the rock formations at Zhangjiajie in Hunan province). In the current fragmented system, local governments did not actually have the right to declare a park national. Actually, as a result of many reforms, China has many so-called national parks, all managed by different institutions. To solve the problem, the establishment of a national parks system was proposed in the November 2013 “Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Comprehensively Deepening Reforms”. It proposes that the State Council creates a body for overall management of national parks and reserves, doing away with the existing regional and departmental divisions and creating a comprehensive and unified management system. The new system should stand above departmental interests in order to improve environmental protection. The draft said national parks are part of China’s national image; are natural heritage not private assets; and must protect large-scale ecosystems, allowing for research, education and tourism: they should not be run for company profits, or as drivers of development for local government, and this is essential for funding and management to come directly from central government. The lack of a unified system has stored up huge problems. Although China’s nature reserves cover 20% of its land, the environment is still worsening. Zhu Chun of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said a national management body would provide a rare chance to improve the protection of nature and promote environmentalism. Finally, the importance of public participation in environmental protection is fundamental because national parks can provide ordinary people with a window onto conservation and make ideal venues for environmental education. The gLawcal Team POREEN project Friday, 7 November 2014 (Source: China Dialogue)