Shrugging off accusations of rampant industrial pollution and the news that it has overtaken the US as the world's largest carbon emitter, China last week unveiled a conservation strategy for its flora.
The country is home to 10 per cent of all known plant species - half of those unique to China - and about 5000 species are under threat. The initiative involves a novel collaboration between three state agencies and London-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The plan is to safeguard China's plant diversity by allowing 15 million hectares of farmland to revert to forest over the next three years, extending nature reserves, protecting biodiversity hotspots and setting up a plant monitoring system. Farmland will also be managed to support wild plant conservation.
"The Chinese government is working hard to develop the economy and improve our sustainable environmental practices," says Jia Jiansheng of the department of wildlife conservation in the State Forestry Administration, Beijing.