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      S. China tigers: anchor of green growth

      Writer: Matteo Convertino  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-11-02

      According to ancient stories, the South China tiger once roamed the mountains of Shenzhen, specifically Tanglang Mountain and Wutong Mountain. This native species lived across a vast region in China stretching between Sichuan Province to the west, Zhejiang to the east, Henan to the north, and southern Guangdong and Guangxi to the south. However, due to hunting and habitat loss, the population of South China tigers dramatically declined, and it has become one of China’s 10 most endangered species.


      Established in 1990, the South China Tiger Nature Reserve in Shaoguan City, northern Guangdong, houses a 30-hectare breeding center for the tigers, responsible for the species’ reproduction and potential reintroduction. However, questions remain about where to reintroduce the tigers.


      Two South China tiger cubs play at the South China Tiger Nature Reserve in Shaoguan City last year. Matteo Convertino


      The TREES Lab affiliated with Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School is working on enhancing ecosystem functions through habitat-specific forest conservation and reforestation along salient ecological corridors, using the South China tiger as an iconic species. By leveraging primary forests in northern Guangdong and neighboring provinces, they hope to build a more resilient ecosystem to fight against aggressive land development and climate change.

      隸屬于清華大學深圳國際研究生院的TREES Lab以華南虎為標志性物種,致力于通過針對生境的森林保護行動和沿重要生態走廊的森林修復行動來增強生態系統功能。通過利用粵北和鄰近省份的原始森林,他們希望構建一個更有彈性的生態系統,以應對頻繁的土地開發和氣候變化。

      Biodiversity conservation reduces carbon emissions and has become the focus of many biodiversity funding plans. For instance, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank are jointly developing a “tiger ecosystem bond” for several Asian countries, which relies on projected carbon revenues to finance ecosystem interventions. The issuing of this bond is projected to protect up to 10 million hectares of forests and cut 40 million tons of carbon emissions, while also financing the recovery of tiger populations.


      Local actions, such as protecting salient ecological corridors and designating protected areas as tiger nature reserves, can have positive global effects, in accordance with China’s commitment to the U.N. climate-change framework. This can be particularly relevant for Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area (GBA), as they are building transportation infrastructure to connect with northern Guangdong.


      It is crucial to make the conservation of primary forest ecosystems a priority in future development plans. Although we may not see the South China tiger return to Shenzhen, restoring its habitats in northern Guangdong and adjacent areas provides significant benefits, for the species can serve as an example of ecological restoration across China.


      By taking small steps every day, we can lead the way towards a more sustainable future.


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