, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 23–33 | Cite as

Threats to China’s Biodiversity by Contradictions Policy

  • Heran Zheng
  • Shixiong Cao


China has among the highest biodiversities in the world, but faces extreme biodiversity losses due to the country’s huge population and its recent explosive socioeconomic development. Despite huge efforts and investments by the government and Chinese society to conserve biodiversity, especially in recent decades, biodiversity losses may not have been reversed, and may even have been exacerbated by unintended consequences resulting from these projects. China’s centralized approach to biodiversity conservation, with limited local participation, creates an inflexible and inefficient approach because of conflicts between local communities and national administrators over the benefits. Although community-based conservation may be an imperfect approach, it is an essential component of a successful future national conservation plan. Biodiversity conservation should be considered from the perspective of systems engineering and a governance structure that combines centralization with community-level conservation. In this paper, we describe China’s complex challenge: how to manage interactions between humans and nature to find win–win solutions that can ensure long-term biodiversity conservation without sacrificing human concerns.


Biodiversity conservation Unintended consequences Centralization Community-based conservation China 



This work was supported by the National Key Technology R&D Program (No. 2012BAC08B05). We thank Geoffrey Hart of Montréal, Canada, for his help in writing this paper. We are also grateful for the comments and criticisms of an early version of this manuscript by our colleagues and by the journal’s reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Economic ManagementBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Urban and Environmental ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’an CityPeople’s Republic of China

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