China to take actions on biodiversity conservation in 2010

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China will step up measures to conserve biological diversity (biodiversity) this year, Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian said Tuesday, warning conservation remains a major challenge.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to biodiversity and has mapped out an action plan to further raise public awareness and promote public participation," Zhou said at the launch of the Action in China for 2010 International Year of Biodiversity in Beijing.

China faced much pressure in biodiversity conservation, Zhou said.

"The decline of biodiversity cannot be prevented in the near future, some habitats of key species are being endangered, and the outlook on the loss of genetic resources is not optimistic," he said.

The government would hold nationwide meetings, establish special websites and distribute publications on biodiversity conservation, among many other activities, according to the plan.

Zhou said biodiversity conservation was greatly significant to China, one of the 12 richest countries in biodiversity.

Khalid Malik, UN Development Program Representative in China, said at the ceremony that China had significantly increased its forest coverage and maintained the integrity of the marine ecosystem.

"We must generate a greater sense of urgency and develop systematic and coherent strategy and action plans with clear and concrete targets," Malik said.

The 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, with the theme "Biodiversity is life; biodiversity is our life," was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 to highlight the continued devastation on the world's species. The UN kicked off its official launch earlier this month, during which its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all people and countries to engage in a global alliance to protect life on Earth.

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