Transfer payments compensate areas within ecological red lines
Aerial photo taken on Aug 14, 2021 shows the scenery of Baiyangdian Lake in North China's Hebei province. [Photo/Xinhua]
China's central authorities plan to ramp up economic compensation to areas where development is strictly prohibited due to environmental protection under a red line system, a recent guideline said.
The country will introduce a differentiated compensation mechanism to reform its reward policy for key areas in ecological conservation, according to the guideline, which was issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, the country's Cabinet.
Published on Sunday, the document said ecological red lines will be included as a factor for consideration when deciding how to distribute centrally allocated transfer payments designated for such areas.
"The support for regions with a high proportion of areas encircled by ecological red lines will be ramped up," it said.
It also said key areas in ecological conservation will see transfer payments reduced if they develop industries with environmental hazards.
Ecological red lines cover areas with important ecological functions, as well as ecologically fragile regions prone to soil erosion, desertification and salinization.
In areas encircled by the red lines, development that may jeopardize their ecological functions will be strictly prohibited.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the central government plans to allocate 88.2 billion yuan ($13.7 billion) in transfer payments this year to areas with key ecological functions, such as biodiversity conservation, desertification control and wind mitigation, a year-on-year rise of 11 percent.
At a news conference in July, Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's nature and eco-conservation department, said China has essentially completed the drawing of red lines across the country.
The preliminary red lines encircle at least a quarter of the country's land, he noted, adding they have covered all of the key areas for biodiversity conservation.
Gao Jixi, head of the ministry's Center for Satellite Application on Ecology and Environment, said the compensation mechanism is key for the management of the red line system.
Unlike natural reserves, there is no special management body for each of the areas encircled by the red lines, making the strategy a cost-efficient solution for the country's current protected land system, he said.
The government will supervise the red lines with the help of satellites and drones, supported by on-site patrols, Gao said.
He said people's livelihoods must be considered in the management of the red lines as "people in areas encircled by the red lines also need to walk toward prosperity". They deserve compensation to make up for the losses they suffer due to development restrictions.