China's top court will formulate guidelines and speed up the issuance of judicial interpretations on protecting biodiversity to ensure related cases can be solved more effectively and efficiently.
Yang Linping, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, released the plan last week, saying that the judicial interpretations will focus on using bans and punitive compensation to stop pollution and reduce damage to the environment as well as on helping solve civil disputes involving forest ownership.
A white paper on biodiversity protection by rule of law will also be issued as soon as possible, she added at a news conference on Friday while detailing how courts have handled biodiversity-related disputes in recent years, including examples from seven influential cases.
Highlighting the significance of the principle of safeguarding and improving the environment and ecology in the Constitution, she said, "Paying greater efforts in biodiversity protection is to implement the fundamental law, uphold Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization and also to meet people's new demands on the environment."
She said Chinese courts have given strong support to biodiversity in many ways over the past few years, including strictly fighting crimes involving rare and endangered wildlife and related products and increasing preventive measures to promote environmental restoration.
Data provided by the top court showed that courts nationwide concluded 66,852 cases concerning biodiversity since 2019, such as those on the protection and quarantine of wild animals and plants as well as on new plant varieties.
"Our courts have also begun giving harsher criminal punishments as a bigger threat to people damaging biodiversity," Yang added.
Liu Zhumei, chief judge of the top court's adjudication tribunal for environment and resources, lauded the role of the public-interest lawsuit in preventing environmental damage.
Under a judicial interpretation on civil public-interest litigation issued by the top court, any department or social organization is allowed to initiate lawsuits when finding the environment being destroyed or facing great risks, she said.
"Such lawsuits have helped us stop some construction projects and minimize damage to biodiversity in some cases in a timely manner, effectively protecting rare and endangered species and their living environment," Liu added.
Guo Feng, deputy head of the top court's research office, said it will continue to publicize similar influential cases, "as it not only shows judicial determination against pollution, but is also a good way to unify trial standards across the country and further uphold justice".