The past and future of ecosystem restoration in China

Curr Biol. 2024 May 6;34(9):R379-R387. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2024.03.057.


For decades, China has implemented restoration programs on a large scale, thanks to its capacity to set policy and mobilize funding resources. An understanding of China's restoration achievements and remaining challenges will help to guide future efforts to restore 30% of its diverse ecosystems under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Here we summarize the major transitions in China's approach to ecosystem restoration since the 1970s, with a focus on the underlying motivations for restoration, approaches to ecosystem management, and financing mechanisms. Whereas China's restoration efforts were predominantly guided by the delivery of certain ecosystem functions and services in earlier decades, more recently it has come to emphasize the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Accordingly, the focal ecosystems, approaches, and financing mechanisms of restoration have also been considerably diversified. This evolution is largely guided by the accumulation of scientific evidence and past experiences. We highlight the key challenges facing China's restoration efforts and propose future directions to improve restoration effectiveness, with regard to goal setting, monitoring, stakeholder involvement, adaptive management, resilience under climate change, and financing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity*
  • China
  • Climate Change*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources* / methods
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods