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Fear of Ecological Redline Restricting Economic Development Dismissed

China's guideline on drawing ecological redline stipulates that it avoid overlapping with local economic and residential zones

By Xu Mouquan Updated Oct.12

Drawing on the experience of its arable farmland redline, China has moved to draw an ecological protection redline - a designated area deemed most essential in terms of ecological functions, environment security and natural resources utilization - to safeguard its ecology. Under the program, each province or provincial-level municipality draws its own redline.

The work is half-way through, with 15 provinces or provincial-level cities having finished drawing their redline, and the remaining work will be done by the end of 2020, Cui Hongshu, head of the Ecological Protection Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said during a news conference on September 29, reported Party-run news portal www.people.net. 

Cui dismissed the fear that such a redline will dampen local economic development. “The redline is the baseline and lifeline to safeguard China’s ecological security, and without it, development will lose support… and become unsustainable,” he said, adding that it will protect mainly areas that have important ecological functions and a fragile ecology. 

China has formulated strict technical guidelines for drawing the redlines, and requires that local governments draw them based on scientific assessments and full consideration of local conditions – including economic development and planning, according to Cui. Its guideline stipulates that the redline must avoid overlapping with local economic and residential zones. 

Even within the redline, not all zones will be subject to “absolute” protection, he said. Aside from the nature reserves or water source reserves under such protection, the State encourages local governments to explore how to transform other ecological resources into value, Cui noted. The State also compensates those who have done a great job in protecting the redline to meet their needs for economic and social development.