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The three basin countries - China, Mongolia and Russia had by 2005 established approximately 700 Protected Areas (PA) that cover 205,572 km² or about 10 percent of the Amur-Heilong River Basin. PA coverage in the Amur-Heilong basin is actually lower than nation-wide average in any of the three basin countries.
Ussury Floodplain at Dongfanghong Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang Province, China, located withing the Amur-Heilong Freshwater Ecoregion © WWF / Eugene Simonov

The ecological network is an essential spatial planning standard for long-term conservation of biodiversity. Given the pace and scale of natural habitat deterioration in the Amur-Heilong River Basin, creation of a representative ecological network is the most important and urgent initial step to development of any wider ecosystem management regimes.

Transboundary Ecological Network

The ecological network should encompass a representative sample of habitats and species, such as valuable wetlands sustaining species migration routes, high-conservation-value forests, protecting populations of large mammals and securing natural spawning sites for rare fish.

The Amur-Heilong Green Belt - an ecological network uniting the goals and strategies of the protected area systems in the three countries - would be a critical step toward establishing a more widespread and ecologically effective protected area system in the Amur-Heilong River Basin as a whole. Conservation along the national borders should be at the heart of future protected areas planning, contributing to environmental safety and harmonious coexistence of neighbouring countries. Cooperation between nature reserves across the border is already underway in the regions where international protected areas are established: Dauria International Protected Area - DIPA in Daurian steppe and International Khanka nature reserve at Lake Khanka/Xingkaihu. Such cooperation is also needed in virtually all major boundary regions of the Amur-Heilong River Basin, especially on Sanjiang wetlands in the Amur Midflow. Conservation of Far Eastern Leopards – the most endangered cat in the world - requires establishment of the Land of Leopard - a cross-border protected area network linking Southern Primorye in Russia to Changbai Mountains on Sino-Korean border.

© Deutsche Welle

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