China / Government

China mulls first amendment to wildlife law in 26 years

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-26 20:34

BEIJING -- 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 for its first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which opened on Monday.

Legislators supported the inclusion of the protection of wildlife habitat into the draft during a panel discussion on Saturday.

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

The current law has played a positive role in wildlife protection, said Lv Caixia, a member of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the NPC.

"But an amendment is necessary because urbanization and infrastructure construction will definitely affect wildlife," she added.

If the managers of construction projects are found to not be 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 U.S. dollars), according to the draft.

In order to better protect habitats, three levels of punishment should be clearly stated according to level of damage caused, legislator Xu Weigang suggested, adding that 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, citizens 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.

Legislators said the amount of compensation should be equivalent to their losses, and the victims will be honored to encourage these acts.

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

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