German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Project Profile: China

Bilateral Cooperation with China

China’s Biodiversity

The Giant Panda, China’s flagship species (photo: Jürgen Nauber)

With over 30,000 vascular plant and 6,347 vertebrate animal species, China has the richest biodiversity of almost any country in the world. Its huge area is home to some 10 percent of all plant species and 14 percent of animal species. China is listed as one of the world’s seventeen megadiverse countries – a group of tropical and subtropical countries with the planet’s greatest species diversity. In terms of vascular plants, China ranks third with some 32,000 species behind Brazil (56,000) and Colombia (51,000).

China is therefore one of the most important gene pools supporting world biological diversity. China’s biodiversity is also of global importance with regard to the climate and ecosystem services. To countries such as Germany, this exceptional biodiversity makes China a key partner in international nature conservation.

Biodiversity under threat

China also has a rapidly growing economy – with all that this means for the environment. Its ecological footprint has doubled since the 1960s and resource consumption is now twice the sustainable level. Some economists in China estimate their country’s environmental impact at well over 10 percent of GDP. The government in Peking has begun to respond, enshrining protection of the environment in its latest five year plan. The world’s most populous country alongside India, China today has the highest consumption of steel, coal, cement, cereals and fertiliser. It also uses the most oil and emits the most greenhouse gases (on this count it has now overtaken the USA). China has 22 percent of the human population to feed but only 9 percent of the world’s tillable land and 6 percent of global freshwater reserves. The consequences are over-exploitation of resources, declining groundwater levels, worsening air and river pollution, and shrinking habitats for China’s rich animal and plant life.

Sino-German Exchange of Experience in Nature Conservation Policy

Binational workshops with German and Chinese scientists (photo: GTZ)

Germany and China already cooperate closely on environmental matters including renewable energy, energy efficiency, wastewater management, chemicals management and air pollution control. However, little attention has so far been paid to biodiversity and nature conservation issues. This does not do justice to China’s importance as a megadiversity country and as a key party to international negotiations.

China is a key international player in efforts to fight climate change and conserve biodiversity. The Chinese government has signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It has begun developing and implementing sustainable policies on climate change and biodiversity conservation. There are frequently obstacles to effective policy implementation, however. These include deficits in gathering and analysing science-based information and in making such implementation available at all levels and on an ongoing basis for policymakers, business and the general public.

Cooperation with China is one area where BfN’s nature conservation advisory services can deliver major lasting benefits, with China currently in the process of cataloguing its protected areas, assessing them with special regard to climate change aspects and moving over to sustainable land use methods. This creates an opening for intensive bilateral exchange. China can profit greatly from Germany’s wide-ranging experience in fields such as biodiversity monitoring, protected area management and sustainable land use.

BfN’s existing close cooperation with Chinese organisations such as CRAES presents a great opportunity to influence developments in China affecting regions of conservation importance.

CRAES: Our Partners in China

CRAES Vice President Shu Jianmin at a BfN workshop in Bonn (photo: Susanne Lehmann)

The Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES) is a research institution under the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) created in 2008. Activities include applied research, policy advice, and technical support for the implementation of national policy guidelines on pollution, climate change and biodiversity conservation. CRAES works closely with BfN on a number of projects, primarily focused on biodiversity (protected area management, indicators for biodiversity monitoring and evaluation, and conservation of species-rich carbon-storing ecosystems).

Future Cooperation

Building on the close cooperation with CRAES on biodiversity, climate change and ecosystem services, one future aim is to bring on board other Chinese institutions and other partners from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. This will create a large forum for comparison of methods and approaches and will help promote networking on the issues covered.

EU-China Biodiversity Programme

With its €51 million budget, the EU-China Biodiversity Programme (ECBP) is the EU’s biggest international biodiversity conservation programme. It is a joint initiative of the European Union, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). The programme was launched in 2005 and runs for five years. Its objective is the conservation of specific ecosystems in China through improved biodiversity management. A further aim is capacity building at the MEP, which was created in 2008 and as the secretariat of the Chinese steering committee is in charge of implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and of putting in place effective monitoring and evaluation systems in China. Some 18 projects are being carried out to develop innovative, replicable mechanisms for fields such as ecosystem management, planning and the incorporation of biodiversity issues into policy strategies.

Project information:

Project period: From 2007

Programme: Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) International budget heading; R&D projects

Region: China

Project partner: CRAES

Project management at BfN:

Section I 2.3 International Nature Conservation
Contact: Lennart Kümper-Schlake


List of selected literature and further links on environmental policy and biodiversity in China:
Literature List

Last Change: 28/01/2020