China mulls first amendment to wildlife law

Beijing, Dec 26 (IANS) China’s top legislature is deliberating an amendment to the Wildlife Law, the first since it came into force in 1989.

The draft was submitted on Saturday for its first reading at the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Xinhua news agency reported.

Legislators supported the inclusion of the protection of wildlife habitat into the draft during a panel discussion earlier in the day.

The draft bans illegal hunting, damaging habitat and requires authorities to reduce the impact of development.

If the managers of construction projects are found not taking measures to eliminate or reduce the projects’ impact on wildlife, projects may be suspended with fines of up to 1 million yuan (about $154,000), according to the draft.

In order to better protect habitats, three levels of punishment should be clearly stated according to the level of damage. Particularly serious cases should see fines up to 3 million yuan.

According to the draft, citizens are obliged to protect wildlife and its habitat. If they spot encroachment on or damage to wildlife habitats, they are expected to report the matter. The draft also requires local governments to protect wildlife and habitat with specific measures.

Legislators also called for better incentives to protect residents’ interests as wildlife numbers will expand due to enhanced protection.

The draft provides compensation or insurance for those who suffer property damage like loss of crops or even injury while protecting wildlife.

The populations of wildlife under state protection, including giant pandas and Tibetan antelopes, has increased and there are now more than 2,700 nature reserves nationwide.

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