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Shenzhen to be protection hub for mangroves

By Wang Xu in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-08 09:22
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International center to facilitate more cooperation, exchanges on preservation

In a landmark victory for global mangrove preservation and cooperation, the Standing Committee of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on Wednesday approved the establishment of the world's first international mangrove center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration said the center in Shenzhen will help China to carry out international cooperation and exchanges on mangrove protection and restoration with all parties through the convention platform.

"It will also promote global mangrove protection and restoration and rational utilization," the administration said.

Considered "coast guards", mangroves can reduce erosion caused by storm surges, have important ecological functions of carbon sequestration and storage, and offer shelter to a variety of species, including fish, reptiles and amphibians.

According to the Global Mangrove Alliance, mangrove forests cover about 14.7 million hectares worldwide — about the size of Bangladesh — and China's mangrove area has increased from 22,000 hectares in 2001 to 27,000 hectares today, making it one of the few countries in the world with an increase in mangrove areas.

In Shenzhen, which boasts 35,000 hectares of wetlands, 296 hectares of them are dedicated to mangroves. Futian Mangrove Ecological Park, located in the heart of the city, is an important stopover site in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for nearly 100,000 migratory birds every winter.

In November last year, at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) in Geneva, President Xi Jinping announced that China would strengthen global cooperation on wetland conservation and establish an international mangrove center in Shenzhen.

In line with Xi's promise, the Chinese government has placed significant emphasis on the protection of wetlands and mangrove forests, with Shenzhen proposing a draft plan to build itself into an international wetland city by 2035, with 50 percent of its wetlands under protection.

"The building of the Shenzhen center is highly significant to conservation, restoration, scientific research and sustainability of mangroves worldwide. It is a platform to connect China and the rest of the world in mangrove exchanges and cooperation," said Sun Lili, founder of Shenzhen Mangrove Wetlands Conservation Foundation.

Lei Guangchun, a professor at Beijing Forestry University, said that Shenzhen has a solid foundation for mangrove conservation and restoration.

"At a time when the global mangrove area is steadily decreasing, China stands out as one of the few countries where the mangrove area is still expanding. The establishment of the international mangrove center holds significant importance as it can raise awareness about the importance of protecting mangrove forests and enhance Shenzhen's international influence," Lei said.

Chen Keqi contributed to this story.

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