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Nature conservation: econet and protected areas
China Protected Areas (PA) extent and PA management responsibility
Related maps, pictures, links

Setting aside areas to preserve natural resources and cultural heritage has been practiced in China for centuries.  A large portion of northeast China was closed for immigration and extractive land-uses through the middle of the 19th Century as hereditary lands and hunting estates of the Qing Dynasty Emperors.
Modern China has been active in the establishment of PAs since the first nature reserve (NR) was established in Dinghushan in Guangdong Province in 1956.  Since then, new PAs were added slowly until 1979 and then rapidly after the Cultural Revolution.
There are several laws regulating PAs: the Nature Reserve Regulations, the Temporary Regulations for Scenic Landscape and Historical Site (SLHS), and a Management Measures for Forest Parks.  All NRs are established under the 1994 Regulations of the People's Republic of China on NRs which allow for only one management category.  Even so, Chinese NRs are established for a variety of purposes and at different levels of government (national, provincial, prefectural, county or district). (See glossary of PA types)
By 2005, China had established 2,349 nature reserves covering an area of 1.5 million square kilometers (15 percent of the China's land area). Of these, 243 are national NRs, accounting for 9.0 percent of the country’s land area.  In addition to NRs China had established over 2,000 PAs of other types by year-end 2002.  These include 1,476 forest parks and 690 scenic landscapes and historical sites that account for a further two percent of the national territory.  More than 50,000 additional small conservation areas were established to protect natural landscapes and preserve water and soil.
Forest parks are created and managed solely by the State Forest Administration (SFA) for tourism and recreation.  They often overlap with established and planned NRs.  Scenic Landscapes and Historic Sites (SLHS) are designated mostly by the Ministry of Construction, which is also responsible for national obligations under the World Heritage Convention.  Similar to Forest Parks, SLHSs often overlap with existing or planned NRs but have less defined management structures.  Nation-wide, the SLHS remains a type of designation rather than a consistent mode of protected areamanagement.
Over ten different ministries or administrations now manage Nature Reserves ("NRs" - most common type of protected area in China: “ziran baohuqu” in Chinese) in mainland China.  However, two agencies have primary responsibility on PAs issues: State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) is the national authority for environmental protection and biodiversity, and SFA is the national authority for forest, wetland and wildlife conservation and managed over 70 percent of all China’s nature reserves. In all three provinces of the Amur-Heilong River basin, the management of NRs under SFA is further divided between the Forest Industry Bureau (subordinated more or less directly to Beijing) and provincial forest bureaus that report to the provincial government.  These agencies often compete with one another, communicate poorly with each other, and have divergent approaches to planning and management.  In Heilongjiang Province, 65 percent of forests are managed by two Forest Industry Bureaus subordinated directly to Beijing.  Most of the NRs are planned and managed by the Heilongjiang Provincial Forestry Bureau which is responsible for the remaining 35 percent of forest lands of poorer quality.  Because there are few remaining large tracts of pristine habitat in China, NRs are typically located in partially fragmented landscapes and often include villages, farmlands, and water control infrastructure. ( see map on Protected areas and human footprint)
NRs are assigned to one of three major types – wildlife protection, ecosystem protection, or natural monument protection, although most reserves include elements of more than one type.  NRs have three management zones, the core area with no use, habitation or interference permitted, apart from limited scientific research; the buffer zone where some collection, measurements, management and scientific research is permitted; and the experimental zone where scientific investigation, public education, tourism, and raising of rare and endangered wild species are permitted. 


Table. PAs of China and in the China portion of the Amur-Heilong River basin in 2005. (Sources:  SEPA PA List 2006, Ye Hechang 2005, 2004)

Protected area category and level

China total number 2005

China total area thousand ha

China's Amur Basin total number 2005

China's Amur Basin total area thousand ha

China's Amur Basin
percent territory

National NR






Provincial NR






Prefecture NR






District NR






Total NR






National Scenic Landscapes and Historic sites (2005)




No data


Forest Parks (national and local), (2003)




No data


Total PAs









Protected areas of Eurasia

Protected areas of Amur-Heilong (all)

Major protected areas of Amur-Heilong

Vegetation map

Terrrestrial ecoregions

Global 200 Ecoregions

Freshwater ecoregions

Upper Ussury –Lake Khanka.

Khanka Lake international nature reserve

Small Hinggan transboundary area (Manchurian forests ecoregion)

Dauria Steppe Global 200 ecoregion

Detailed hydrography of Amur River basin

Wetlands of Amur

Human footprint and ecoregions of Amur

Threats to biodiversity in Southern Russian Far East



Protected areas in China

Three gorges of the dragon river

Introductory tour of Amur basin

Da Hinggan - Dzhagdy forest ecoregion in Russia

Ussury forests

Small Hinggan


Daurian steppe

Song-Nen plain

Amur meadows and wetlands – Amur midflow

Khanka Lake and Upper Ussury Wetlands


GIS: Ecological network


Hulungou ranger station at Dalai Lake Biosphere Reserve (Photo by E.Cybikova)

Also look:

Protected areas in Amur-Heilong River basin:

Protected areas coverage in Amur River Basin

Protected areas types in Russia, Mongolia, China

Russian protected areas

Mongolian protected areas

China nature reserves

Protected areas planning

Cooperation between nature reserves


Econet-ecological networks:

WWF Vision for Amur-Heilong Conservation

Conservation along the border

Wetland conservation

Grassland conservation and migratory wildlife

Selected Amur-Heilong protected areass and proposed fields of cooperation (Table)

Major wetland regions of the Amur-Heilong River basin ( Table )

Ecological Network for Amur: The Amur-Heilong Green Belt Concept


Model areas for transboundary conservation:

Dauria international Protected Area-DIPA

Middle Amur –Sanjiang wetlands

Khanka –Ussury wetlands and forests

Small Hinggan Mountains-Three Gorges of Dragon River

Land of the Leopard


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