How China expanded its protected areas to conserve biodiversity.
How has the global network of protected areas developed - and which decisions have guided this development? Answering these questions may give insight into what might be possible in the next decade. In 2021, China will host the Convention of Biological Diversity's Conference, which will influence the coming decade's agenda. We consider how China expanded its protected areas in the last half-century. Did concerns about biodiversity protection drive those decisions, or were other factors responsible? Like other countries, China has protected remote places with few people that are unusually cold or dry or both. Despite that, species with small geographical ranges that have the highest risk of extinction are better protected than expected. Importantly, while the growth of total area and number of protected areas has slowed for the last decade, increases in protection of forested ecosystems and the species they contain have steadily increased. China's future reserve expansion must consider where to protect biodiversity, not just how much area to protect.
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