With so many plants and animals at risk of extinction, our reporter Yang Jinghao has been talking to botanists in southwest China's Yunnan Province to find out how they have been protecting the critically endangered species.
This garden may look nothing special at the first sight, in fact, it's of great value in scientific research and ecological protection.
Located in the Kunming Botanical Garden, it houses some 60 plant species that are critically endangered or are fragile.
YANG JINGHAO Kunming, Yunnan Province "Academically, these plants belong to the so-called 'species with extremely small populations,' which are facing a high risk of extinction in their natural habitats, particularly under the pressure of human disturbance."
Sun Weibang is a pioneer and leading scientist in this field. Over the past decade, he has made much effort in theoretical innovation and conservation practice.
He says species with fewer than 100 individuals need urgent protection.
SUN WEIBANG Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences "Each species is an indispensable part of nature. The extinction of one species may lead to the loss of others and the degradation of the whole ecosystem. Protecting a species means protecting the biodiversity of the ecosystem."
Sun says some species can be protected in the natural habitat by setting up a small reserve, while others need protection elsewhere.
SUN WEIBANG Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences "That doesn't mean we remove the plants to another place. We've tried to expand the populations of an endangered species by cultivating their seedlings in our garden."
The seedlings are obtained via artificial propagation with seeds or other genetic resources, as is shown in this lab.
One of the missions Sun is proud of is the rescue of a kind of maple discovered in Yangbi County in Yunnan.
Initially, they only found five trees in the wild, but they successfully bred thousands of saplings and planted them in different parts of the province.
Yang Jing is a member of Sun's team. She says she feels a great sense of accomplishment when a species is successfully reintroduced to the wild. She is still impressed with the experience of reintroducing the saplings of a Tiliaceae species called Dian Tong in 2016.
YANG JING Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences "There was a rare cold wave when they were just planted, and only about 50 of them survived. I went back to see them last year and this year, and I was excited to see they are growing healthily. I took some pictures with them as if they were my own babies."
Today, the undertaking has got more attention from authorities with supportive measures. Sun says technological innovation is the key to improving conservation of these plants. (CGTN)