The challenge in conservation of biodiversity : regulation of National Parks in China and South Africa in comparison

Burgess, Meryl (2012-05)

CCS discussion papers should contribute to the academic debate on China’s global rise and the consequences thereof for African development. We do therefore explicitly invite scholars from Africa, China, or elsewhere, to use this format for advanced papers that are ready for an initial publication, not least to obtain input from other colleagues in the field. Discussion papers should thus be seen as work in progress, exposed to (and ideally stimulating) policy-relevant discussion based on academic standards. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author.

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Due to the increasing depletion and extinction of the world’s biodiversity, it has become a vital process among the global community to protect the environment and safeguard natural habitats and thousands of species. In developing countries like China and South Africa, factors like the growth and development of urban and rural spaces, industrialisation, high population growth and agriculture activities have added extra pressures to the countries’ biodiversity and natural environment. For this reason, there has been an increase in the number of protected areas established, especially national parks, that are firstly established to protect biodiversity and secondly, established for education and recreation. China, known as one of the “17 megadiverse” countries in the world, is home to a large percentage of the world’s biodiversity. Due to factors such as development, industrialisation as well as a high population growth in recent decades, much of the country’s biodiversity has been harmed or threatened. Similar to China, South Africa has some of the richest biodiversity in the world, also threatened by both natural causes and human-made factors. For this reason, protected areas such as nature reserves, botanical gardens, scenic landscapes, historical areas and national parks have increasingly been established. Although China has an established nature reserve system as well as regulation thereof, the national park system in China is in its early developing phase, with national parks only having been established in one province. South Africa on the other hand has an older and established national park system, with 22 national parks regulated and managed around the country by SANParks as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs. Because national parks are considered public spaces, they have been regulated, in order to properly protect and manage the parks and the species within them. This study looks at the way China and South Africa have attempted to regulate and manage national parks. Regulation and management of parks are important as parks need to uphold the laws and policy on biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. This study thus looks at how national parks have come to do this in two countries with very rich biodiversity, high tourist numbers and development taking place, in some instances at a rapid pace.

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