China released on Tuesday an overall plan on the development and management of national parks, which calls for the strictest measures to protect the country's natural beauty and pass it on to generations to come. By 2020, China will formally set up a batch of national parks and establish a new national department to take charge of the comprehensive management of these parks, according to the plan. By 2030, the system will be further improved and the management more efficient, it said. As one of the most important areas in natural reserves, the national parks will receive the strictest protection, according to the plan jointly released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's Cabinet. "The national parks are owned by the State, shared by the people and passed on to future generations ... as precious natural legacies," the plan said. No construction or exploitation of resources is allowed inside national parks, and any violation, including illegal mining, discharging pollutants or hunting, will be punished, the plan said. It said the inhabitants of the core regions of the national parks will be gradually relocated. The central government will conduct regular monitoring and build databases for the natural resources and environment situation of the natural parks, and a third party will be invited to conduct assessments. The central government also will assess the performance of local officials and their protection of the parks, and anyone who fails to perform their duties will receive severe punishments during and even beyond their terms. "The release of the plan shows that China has preliminarily completed the top design of the national park system and the ongoing pilot projects are progressing well," said Wang Yi, vice-president of the Institute of Policy and Management at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. China established 10 trial national parks as pilot projects in 2013, with a combined area of over 170,000 square kilometers involving 13 provincial regions such as Qinghai, Sichuan and Heilongjiang. These parks are expected to undergo assessments in the coming years and could be named national parks. Some of the parks are devoted to wild species, such as the giant panda in Southwest China or the Siberian tiger and leopard in the Northeast. Some others are for the protection of fragile, yet critical, natural environments, such as the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers, China's three major waterways. Still others are for historic relics like the Great Wall. Su Yang, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, applauded the overall plan since it clearly defines the national parks and clarifies the responsibilities of the central government and provincial governments. The plan says funding could be from the central and provincial governments, and encourages social investment. logo wristbands
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