The Ministry of Natural Resources issued the ‘Requirements for Strictly Adhering to the Bottom Line and Standardizing the implementation of Comprehensive Land Remediation Pilot in the Whole Region’ on 23 April 2023. The new requirements regulate land management and spatial planning at the national level.
Their overall aim is to promote rural revitalisation and prevent the infringement of protected ecological spaces as well as preventing the infringement of the rights and interest of local people and landowners as a result of improper implementation. The policy prioritises:
- Delineated spatial planning for ecological, agricultural, and urban spaces, the so called “three districts and three lines” categorisation. Under this delineation, it is strictly forbidden to alter the “red line” denoting ecologically protected spaces, but to instead “open skylights” as needed for additional land use within protected areas. Likewise, it is required that boundaries of urban development are strictly observed and unaltered.
- Prevention of loss and quality reduction of cultivated land and permanent farmland. It is instructed that changes to agricultural zones first be planned, then adjusted and that a “balance of entry and exit” be maintained when areas are adjusted.
- Safeguarding the rights and interests of local people and landowners. When planning pilot areas and land management changes, it is advised to consult with local residents to incorporate the needs and preferences of the majority. Alongside, large-scale demolition or construction against the preference of local residents is forbidden
- Oversight of pilot projects. In order to prevent poor and fragmented land management, pilot implementation plans must be submitted to the Ministry for review and approval.
The policy reflects the effort to standardise land management and spatial planning across China in order to prevent breaching of the ecological red line which is understood as the “bottom line” for spatial development in China.
The CPC Central Committee defines the ecological red line: “The red line of ecological protection refers to the area within the ecological space that has special important ecological functions and must be strictly protected, and it is the bottom line and lifeline for guaranteeing and safeguarding the national ecological security. It usually includes important ecological function areas that have important functions such as water conservation, maintenance of biodiversity, soil and water conservation, windbreaks and sand fixation, and ecological stabilisation of coasts, as well as areas with sensitive and fragile ecological environment, including soil and water loss, sandy land, rocky desertification, and salinity, and so on. It also includes ecologically important areas with important functions such as water and soil conservation, wind and sand control, and coastal ecological stabilisation, as well as sensitive and fragile areas such as water and soil loss, land sanding, desertification and salinisation.” Several Opinions on Delineating and Strictly Observing Ecological Protection Red Lines