China strengthens environmental protection through digital technologies

“Today we increased the detection rate of Asian elephants to over 99%. We are able to track herds even if we just photograph an elephant’s tail at night,” said Sun Yonghao, deputy general manager of the department of natural resources of Inspur, a leading Chinese big data and cloud computing company.

In the Asian Elephant Monitoring and Alerting System jointly established by the Forest and Grassland Administrations of Yunnan Province and Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna and the Management and Conservation Bureau of Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve and Inspur, information on elephant herds is available real-time, such as number, movement and situation analysis. Once the system’s front-end sensor devices capture images, technical means such as artificial intelligence (AI) are used to identify animal species to make real-time decisions through edge computing. The system then generates alerts that are sent via smart radios, mobile apps and other media to villagers and the surrounding population to take precautions.

An adult Japanese ibis and two chicks rest on a tree near the Juhe River in Yaozhou District of Tongchuan City, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, May 6, 2022. (Shi Tonggang /

This is the first time that AI detection technology has been used to monitor and alert wildlife in support of the China Forest Data Center. Launched in 2020, this system has sent out more than 9,000 alerts and has played a crucial role in calming human-elephant conflict and promoting biodiversity.

With the rise of the digital economy, the Internet, big data, cloud computing, AI, blockchain and other new technologies are speeding up their integration into various sectors to create a solid pillar for economic and social development.

In terms of environmental protection, digital technologies not only improve work efficiency, but also effectively use the protection and monitoring data collected by nature reserves over the years, proving the enormous potential of digital technologies in this particular field.

Yangtze River porpoises swim near the Gezhouba Dam in Yichang City, central China’s Hubei Province, May 10, 2022. (Liu Shusong/

At the Tian’e’zhou National Dolphin Reserve of China in Shishou City, Hubei Province, data such as water temperature, pressure and dissolved oxygen levels, as well as food intake, faecal shape and skin glossiness of finless Yangtze porpoises are presented and constantly updated on a large screen .

In the Siberian Tiger and Amur Leopard National Parks in China, a surveillance system in the sky, on the ground and in space is able to monitor a wide area in real time: infrared cameras on the ground monitor day and night. Remote sensing satellites in space and drones in the sky are also monitoring activity. This system has already recovered more than 20,000 surveillance images of tigers and leopards. With this system you simply take a photo and upload it to the Blue Map image recognition application to identify wild animals such as birds, insects and other animals.

Digital technologies enable accurate identification and timely tracking of emerging ecological issues, and support scientific protection and systematic governance. They also promote the coordinated development of the digital economy and the green economy, and provide new solutions to improve the environmental and environmental governance system and modernize governance capacity.

In Guizhou province, a digital platform monitors the geological environment recovery of all mines in the province in real time thanks to remote sensing. In the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, specially designed drones to take water samples and analyze 18 types of gases have greatly improved the city’s ability to carry out environmental monitoring.

Photo shows the control room of a waste incinerator for power generation in Qiaodong District of Zhangjiakou City, north China’s Hebei Province, 28 March 2022. ). (Cen Yi /

Digital technologies have changed the way China protects the environment. The country conducts intelligent surveillance and acts autonomously by issuing alerts instead of resorting to manual processing and passively responding.

According to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), China will lead the reform of the mode of production, lifestyle and governance model through digital transformation. The State Council’s announcement of the victory in the fight against environmental pollution called for the construction of an intelligent and efficient ecological management computer system. The State Council guidelines for strengthening the government’s digital transformation called for the digital transformation of environmental and environmental protection to be continued, the environmental compatibility and relevance of spatial planning to be improved and the use of resources to be scientifically promoted.

Through an innovative green development approach that prioritizes environmental protection, China is making full use of the potential of digital technologies to improve the level of environmental and environmental protection and modernize its ecological governance capacity, thereby promoting development in the new era.

(By People’s Daily reporter Gu Yekai)

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