China's second national botanical garden is to be built in Guangzhou, after the country's first opened in Beijing in April.
The State Council announced the approval of the establishment of the new garden on Monday, saying it will be built on the current South China Botanical Garden in the eastern part of Guangzhou.
The South China National Botanical Garden will be jointly constructed by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Guangdong provincial government and the Guangzhou city government.
Details of the national botanical garden are expected to be disclosed by the end of June.
Li Junqing, a professor with Beijing Forestry University, said the establishment of the South China National Botanical Garden will play a significant role in protecting plant diversity.
With Beijing located in a temperate zone and Guangzhou in a subtropical zone, the two national botanical gardens will complement each other in terms of plant diversity, Li said in an interview with Beijing News.
Ren Hai, director of the South China Botanical Garden, said the national botanical garden will bear the responsibility of being a base for national plant diversity protection.
According to Ren, 72 percent of China's forest area, 85 percent of its grassland and 75 percent of its wetlands are in different degrees of degradation.
"Currently about 11 percent of the plants in China are in danger of extinction, with more having become extinct before people know about them," he said.
Protecting plants both in their natural locations and in other locations is important in preserving plant diversity, said Ren, who is also deputy director of the Ecological Society of China.
"By building national parks, nature reserves, forest parks and wetlands, and by minimizing human interference, plants and animals can grow in their natural environment," said Ren.
But not all plants can be protected in situ, he said.
"Climate change has made some plants lose their ecological environment, therefore, they need to be moved to an artificial environment for protection. And botanical gardens are the main institutions for protecting such plants," he said.
The current South China Botanical Garden was built by the CAS, the Guangdong provincial government and the Guangzhou city government.
The largest subtropical botanical garden in China, it has a conservation exhibition area of 283 hectares.
It's home to more than 30 special gardens, including magnolia, palm, ginger and orchid gardens, and about 17,000 taxa of conservation plants away from their natural habitats.
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