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Land reclamation under strict regulation

Updated: Jul 25,2018 5:34 PM

The State Council issued a circular on July 25, stating that land reclamation work will be under stringent regulatory control, in a bid to better maintain ecological equilibrium in the coastal wetland.

The coastal wetland, a significant habitat for inshore creatures and transit station for migrant birds, is of great ecological importance. Therefore, landfills should be tightly controlled, in order to promote natural resources protection, enhance ecological security, and push forward construction of an ecological civilization.

According to the circular, the gross area of landfill will be more rigidly regulated, with local annual planned targets nullified and approvals for projects of this kind halted, excluding national strategic ones.

Newly added landfill projects and corresponding ecological restoration work should advance in sync, in a bid to reduce detriments induced by land fill work.

In the case of project approvals, those involving land reclamation initiated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the State Council, the Central Military Committee, and provincial authorities will be subject to strict regulatory control by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Natural Resources, and eventually submitted to the State Council for approvals.

The Ministry of Natural Resources, along with the National Development and Reform Commission and other departments concerned, will complete a comprehensive survey by means of satellite remote sensing on the status quo of national land reclamation, including references for the projects, situation of approvals, and entities that utilize the waters. Any cases found to be illegal or on hold will be reported to concerned provincial authorities, resulting in corresponding punishments.

Coastal areas demarcated by the red lines for ecological protection will be subject to strict protection and regulation, and any illegal projects in these areas will be wiped out, in a bid to retain the protected coastal areas, natural coastlines, and the sandy island coastlines.

Regulation on existing coastal natural reserves will be further strengthened, and a new string of reserves, special reserves, and wetland parks will be constructed.

A set of technological benchmarks will be developed for land restoration, featuring assessment for ecological damage, compensation, restoration work and other items. And restoration work will be conducted primarily through natural approaches.

The national survey on wetland, aligned with the third National Land Census, will be carried out with unified technological standards, providing accurate assessments and analyses for items including protection, utilization, ownership, and functionality.

Additionally, a dynamic supervision system will be established, further cementing supervision on landfills, and keeping track of dynamic variations of the coastal wetlands and natural coastlines.

Coastal wetland protection work will be incorporated into territory planning for unified arrangements, the circular said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources should fulfill the responsibility of protecting, restoring, and reasonably utilizing marine resources and work in coordination with the National Development and Reform Commission and concerned departments. Meanwhile, all agencies will be urged to pitch in.

All the coastal provincial-level regions are the entities in charge of enhancing coastal wetland protection and regulating landfills. Hence, local authorities should formulate concrete plans to implement protection and address related issues according to the law.

Publicity in this regard should be substantially boosted via various channels, informing the public about related policies and achievements for the purpose of widespread wetland protection.