Environmental Governance in Asia series
Chapter 3: Current Status of Species and Ecosystems in China and Taiwan
Accelerated economic development in the last 50 years has had the greatest impact on threatened species and ecosystems in China and Taiwan, notwithstanding the accumulation of pressures over millennia. The measurement of biodiversity loss is an even more recent phenomenon. Only since the mid-1980s have scientists begun to form frameworks and baselines that can be used to compare threats to species and ecosystems in China with those of other nations. In this chapter we examine the status of China and Taiwan’s threatened and endangered species and ecosystems in the early twenty-first century (2005). We begin with a review of the process used in both jurisdictions to identify endangered species. Then we present information on actual species, with a special focus on those recognized internationally as endangered. Next we discuss the critical habitat of species in the context of the three main ecosystem types: forests, wetlands and oceans. The chapter concludes with a focus on scientists and scientific institutions, and the important role they play in the identification and preservation of species. THE IDENTIFICATION PROCESS Special Conditions of Data Collection in China Three factors or conditions influence the ability of scientists to develop accurate information about species and ecosystems: the size and diversity of China, the small number of highly trained specialists in the biological sciences and ecology, and a bureaucratic culture that discourages information sharing. Mackinnon et al.’s A Biodiversity Review of China1 divides the Chinese landmass into seven biogeographical regions. A review of these regions informs us of the...
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