On 15 August 2023, the MNR’s China Land Surveying and Planning Institute released the ‘Blue Book on Ecological Protection Red Lines (2023)’ (hereinafter referred to as the “Blue Book”). This is China’s first such publication on ecological protection red lines, which systematically summarises the processes, methods, achievements, and practical cases concerning the delineation of ecological protection red lines in China. It proposes ideas and suggestions to strengthen the supervision of ecological protection red lines and to improve the ecological protection red line system.
The concept of ecological protection red lines is a significant institutional innovation in the process towards realising an ecological civilization. The MNR, in conjunction with the preparation of the ‘National Territorial Spatial Planning Outline (2021-2035)’, and other departments such as the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), has fully completed the designation of the national land and sea ecological protection red lines for the first time. This was done to control important ecological spaces and provide a Chinese plan for global ecological protection and governance.
The total ecological protection red line area designated in this plan is about 3.19 million m², including about 3.04 million m² of natural reserves on land (accounting for more than 30% of China’s land area), and about 150,000 m² of protected areas at sea. The red lines will be incorporated into territorial spatial planning systems and the National Territorial Spatial Planning Implementation Monitoring Network will be established. This is done in order to regularly monitor and assess the effectiveness of protection, effectively strengthen the supervision of the whole lifecycle, and put the most stringent ecological protection system into practice.
The Blue Book also sorts out typical local cases in order to help the public to better understand the practical experience of delineating and managing ecological protection red lines in various region.