Protecting “Earth Kidney” Focuses on Typical Wetland Ecological Protection Cases Unveiled by Supreme People’s Court

Protecting “Earth Kidney” Focuses on Typical Wetland Ecological Protection Cases Unveiled by Supreme People’s Court

Text | Our Correspondent Liu Tingmei

Protecting “Earth Kidney” Focuses on Typical Wetland Ecological Protection Cases Unveiled by Supreme People’s Court

Photo courtesy of Dongtai Tiaozin Natural Heritage Site CFP, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province

From Huang He Delta on coast of Bohai Sea to Qinghai Lake among mountain plateau, from Zhalong Nature Reserve in Heilongjiang, where lakes and marshes are full of reeds, to port of Dongzhai in Hainan with dense mangroves. .. As an important natural ecosystem, wetlands perform ecological functions such as water conservation, climate regulation, environmental improvement and biodiversity maintenance, are closely related to human survival and development and are known as "buds of earth".

June 1, 2023 marks first anniversary of entry into force of "Wetland Protection Law of People's Republic of China" (hereinafter referred to as "Wetland Protection Law"). At same time, this year marks 31st anniversary of my country's accession to United Nations Convention on Wetlands. In order to raise awareness of rule of law in area of ​​wetland protection, build a strong community-wide consensus on conservation and protection of wetlands, and demonstrate effectiveness of people's courts in environmental protection of wetlands, Supreme People's Court recently published 12 typical cases of ecological protection of wetlands.

The 12 typical wetland environmental protection cases published this time include various types of litigation such as criminal, civil, administrative and public interest related to environmental resources; protection of lakes, rivers, wetlands and tidal flats and other aspects; The protection covers wetlands of Xingkai Lake in Heilongjiang, coastal tidal flats and wetlands in Yancheng, Jiangsu and other protected wetlands that have important national and global impact.

"These 12 model wetland environmental protection cases have been properly handled in accordance with law, which fully testifies to tireless efforts of people's courts to act as a judge of natural resources, protect borders of wetland environmental safety in accordance with law, and leave to future generations beautiful wetlands Judicial protection of wetlands plays an exemplary and leading role and is also a concrete action for my country to fully implement “Convention on Wetlands”, which is positive for demonstrating my country's responsibility as a major country and contributing to global process of protecting wetlands,” said person in charge of Supreme People’s Court.

The whole chain to combat illegal hunting

Protect wetland ecosystem

Each year from March to April, this is peak period of spring migratory bird migration at Xingkai Lake in Heilongjiang Province. Asthe local weather is getting warmer, all kinds of migratory birds gather in wetlands of Xingkai Lake. In addition to common cormorants, geese, egrets, herons, etc., number of eastern white storks, which are first-class protected animals of country, is increasing every year.

The Xingkai Lake Wetland is reported to be a Wetland of International Importance located on border between China and Russia. It is a postal station and a paradise for migratory birds. More than 200 bird species have been recorded here. It is rich in biodiversity. and is natural gene pool of species.

In September 2019, defendants Han Mouhui and Wei Mouyang colluded to hunt wild ducks near Xingkai Lake National Nature Reserve in Heilongjiang Province. From September 2019 to September 2021, Wei Muyang contacted Liang Moumou and other defendants to trap wild ducks by setting sticky nets deep in reserve's wetlands and playing bird calls through loudspeakers. Wei Mouyan contacted defendants Huang Mou and Yao Moufei regarding sale, while Han Mouhui was in charge of transportation and delivery. The 20 defendants, including Han Mouhui and Wei Mouyang, illegally hunted 27,319 wild animals in total, while Huang Mou and Yao Mufei purchased a total of 10,602 illegally harvested wild animals. The People's Procuratorate in Mishan City, Heilongjiang Province, prosecuted 22 defendants in this case for illegal hunting.

The People's Court of Mishan City, Heilongjiang Province ruled that 22 defendants, including Han Mouhui, violated hunting regulations, hunted in reserve, and destroyed wildlife resources. The circumstances were serious, and their actions constituted crime of illegal hunting. This case is a joint crime. In accordance with primary and secondary role of each defendant in joint crime, court identified main perpetrator and accomplice respectively, and sentenced each defendant to criminal detention for six years, according to circumstances such as extradition of defendants and degree of harm of crime. In in total, more than 390,000 yuan of illegal proceeds were confiscated in accordance with law, and criminal instruments were also confiscated. After verdict was announced, some of defendants refused to accept it and filed an appeal. The Intermediate People's Court of Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province, after a trial, decided to dismiss appeal and uphold original decision.

Illegal hunting and resale of wild animals not only causes serious damage to wildlife resources and threatens ecological balance, but also easily causes spread of viruses and parasites. In this case, people's court investigated criminal liability of 22 defendants for illegal hunting in accordance with law, not only cracked down on crimes of illegal huntingnot on birds, but also imposed criminal penalties on defendants who illegally acquired and resold wild animal resources. The targeted prosecution of behavior of ecological environment of wetlands is a clear example of implementation by people's courts of strictest system and strictest legality in field of environmental protection of environment.

June 10, 2023 is seventh Wetland Day in Heilongjiang Province. Police from Environmental Resources Tribunal of Jixi Intermediate People's Court and officers from Xingkai Lake Scenic Area Management Committee of Heilongjiang Province went to shore of Xingkai Lake to hang themselves. banners and advertise "Wetland Conservation Law" and "Heilongjiang Province Wetland Conservation Regulations" were promoted to local community by folding flyers urging public to participate in protection of wetlands.

Jixi Court consciously puts maintenance and protection of construction of ecological civilization at forefront, applies concept of green development throughout process and each link of ecological resource testing, adheres to both punitive and restorative judicial concepts, and protects clear waters of Jixi Wetlands with blue sky justice sword.

Among typical wetland environmental protection cases recently released by Supreme People's Court, illegal hunting case of officials Gu and Chen is also a case in which human activities have had a serious negative impact on wetlands and their biodiversity.

In this case, Shanghai Jiuduansha Wetland Management Agency signed an agreement with a company that did not participate in case due to active early sampling of epidemics and epidemics of wild animals and need for environmental protection volunteers, entrusting company to organize personnel to visit Jiuduansha wetlands Catch 400 geese, ducks and wild birds to carry out voluntary environmental protection work.After completion, wild birds should be released. Subsequently, company assigned Defendant Gu to carry out above assigned tasks.

After a preliminary discussion with defendant Chen Muguan, Gu Mou, under guise of a bird conservation volunteer and sampling personnel, privately removed several wild ducks from protected area at a cost of about 150 yuan apiece. Chen Mouguan, 68 pieces in total. After deal, on a certain day, Gu was arrested by police, and 33 wild ducks were seized from his car for sale. All of 101 wild ducks mentioned above were found to be terrestrial wild animals that are beneficial or of significant economic and research importance under state protection, with a total value of 50,500 yuan. Shanghai Railway ProcuratorateKla Gu and Chen to account for illegal hunting.

The Shanghai Railway Transport Court ruled that Gu and Chen violated hunting regulations, illegally hunted in reserve, and destroyed wildlife resources. The circumstances were serious, and their actions constituted crime of illegal hunting. Gu was assigned to capture geese, ducks and wild birds in reserve for active preventive selection of epidemics and epidemic diseases of wild animals and needs of environmental volunteer work, and he received relevant legal knowledge and professional knowledge training during period of proxy, however, contrary to requirements of job, he used a special identity card to cover up illegal purposes, carried out illegal hunting, behaved badly, caused serious damage to animal resources, endangered environmental safety and public safety, and should be severely punished in accordance with law. Gu was then sentenced to one year in prison, Chen's official was sentenced to seven months in prison, suspended for one year, and illegal proceeds were returned. After verdict was announced, none of parties filed a protest or appealed against it. The decision of court of first instance entered into force.

In case of illegal fishing of Qiu hydro products released in one batch, people's court, in pursuing criminal liability of illegal fisherman, considered guilty plea, confession and punishment, and payment of environmental and environmental compensation. His lenient punishment effectively took advantage of criminal policy, combining condescension with severity. At same time, in order to effectively prevent crime of illegal fishing of aquatic products and promote protection of wetland fish resources, people's court went to scene of case to conduct district trials, invited deputies of National People's Congress. Congress and members of People's Political Consultative Conference of China to participate, and also organized local residents to participate in trial.Right, tell story of rule of law in a way that people enjoy listening to.

Try to sue for violation of public interest according to law

Enforced compensation for environmental damage

On occasion of annual Dragon Boat Festival, a dragon boat race is held at Haizhu Wetlands in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province. Dragon boats with many sails rush along river and multi-colored flags flutter, contrasting with green river landscape.

Haizhu Wetland is located in central part of Guangzhou city. It is largest central metropolitan area wetland park in country. This is real "green heart" of city. The protection of wetlands is particularly important.

In March 2022, NationalHaizhu District Court of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province learned from Haizhu Branch of Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau (hereinafter referred to as "Haizhu Environmental and Environmental Branch") that Guangzhou Auto Repair Plant of Guangzhou did not install sewage and exhaust gas treatment devices, but also vehicles. During maintenance, exhaust gases from painting and mixing and wastewater from sanding are discharged on grounds that they do not meet emission standards. The Haizhu Environmental and Conservation Bureau previously interviewed Liu, who is in charge of auto repair plant, and asked him to be closed until March 10, 2020. In order to quickly and effectively stop sewage discharge of auto repair plant and strengthen management of source of litigation, Haizhu court cooperated with Haizhu Ecological Environment Department to intervene in advance to help with settlement.

April 8 of same year, Haizhu Court and Haizhu Environmental Protection Division arrived at scene to investigate and confirmed that auto repair plant did not have pollution prevention and control facilities, such as odor and exhaust cleaning devices and cleaning wastewater facilities. The person in charge of auto repair shop said that it will be working there from end of 2021. During this period, it will be closed for a period of time, and actual opening hours are relatively short. remediation plan as soon as possible.

Due to delay in receiving troubleshooting plan from auto repair shop, Haizhu Court issued a "Legal Risk Warning" and delivered it to auto repair shop, detailing possible legal risks of environmental pollution. After receiving "Legal Risk Alert", body shop promised to complete troubleshooting by May 15, 2022. The Haizhu court notified Haizhu Subbureau of Environmental Protection of auto repair shop's obligation to correct situation, and bureau called for completion of correction within stipulated time.

On May 16, 2022, relevant officials of Haizhu Court, Haizhu Environmental Protection Branch, and Haizhu Wetland Management Office again visited site to inspect repair shop and supervised completion of removal of car. repair shop with painting, paint mixing, etc. Job. Knowing that auto repair factory plans to move to a new location to continue working, Haizhu court ordered it to improve environmental protection equipment and facilities, as well as legal discharge, in order to avoid risk of environmental pollution and ecological destruction again.

Until now, thanks to cooperation of Haizhu Court, Haizhu Environmental Protection Branch and Haizhu Wetland Management Office, risk of damage to Haizhu Wetland Ecological Service function has been timelybut also effectively prevented.

In this case, before conviction, people's court actively integrated into environmental management system through multilateral coordination and cooperation to form a joint force for prevention and control of environmental pollution and environmental pollution. "This is a useful study of a new model of environmental protection of environment" treatment of front and prevention of disease.

In case of People's Procuratorate of Dongtai City, Jiangsu Province v. Xu Mouhua and property insurance company in a civil litigation for environmental protection of environment due to frequent encounters with wild animals in Yellow Sea wetlands, People's Court immediately informed local traffic Traffic, Natural Resources and Planning Department made a legal motion proposing that wildlife warning signs be installed on roads in coastal areas where traffic is high and surrounding wildlife is frequent, reminding drivers and passengers to drive carefully and avoid them to reduce damage to vehicles means of wild animals. After judgment was issued, relevant departments attached great importance to it and promptly installed more than 10 sets of warning signs about wild animals on roads where moose often move.

“The People's Court took initiative to expand its judicial functions, made judicial proposals to administrative departments with loopholes in management and protection, actively promoted effective solution of problem of protecting wetland wildlife resources, and further improved efficiency of wetland areas. protection and management of sources of litigation. Managing working mechanism for ecological protection of wetlands is exemplary.”

Support administrative compensation in accordance with law

Promoting environmental restoration

November 11, 2022, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, received certificate of "International Wetland City" at Geneva Chapter of 14th Conference of Parties to Ramsar Convention. Chen Zhizhou, vice director of board of Jiangsu Yancheng Rare Bird National Nature Reserve, introduced in his forum speech that Yancheng Wetland Rare Bird National Nature Reserve mainly protects rare wild animals such as red-crowned cranes and coastal water ecosystem -wetlands on which they depend.

“In terms of wetland ecological management, we are committed to a nature-based restoration plan and have successfully implemented pilot projects such as water diversion to replenish moisture, return of fish to wetlands, reed control, and control of Spartina alterniflora. Chen Zhizhou said.

Jiangsu Yancheng Wetland Rare Bird National Wildlife Refuge is one of largest tidal plains nature reserves in my country. The reserve has many protected animals of first class, protected animals of second class and other "triple" birds of ecological, scientific and social value. How to strengthen management and control during restoration is a challenge that protected areas must face.

In autumn and winter of 2019, 196 mu of rice procured by Jiang Mulin in Group 6 of Doulungang Village, Sanlong City, Dafeng County, Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, were eaten and damaged by wild birds. they are only driven away by firecrackers, but protected area is too large and effect is very small. As a result, planted rice is eaten and spoiled by wild birds, and crop is mostly lost.

According to production testing and evaluation, Jiang Muling lost more than 360,000 yuan. The Bureau of Natural Resources and Planning of Dafeng District of Houyan City, based on written opinions of relevant departments and referring to current agricultural insurance standards, awarded Jiang 550 yuan per mu, which is more than 100,000 yuan in total. In December 2020, after Jiang Mulin received compensation, he filed an administrative lawsuit with Dafeng District Natural Resources and Planning Bureau as a defendant, demanding that Dafeng District Natural Resources and Planning Bureau compensate Jiang Mulin for more than 360,000 economic losses in accordance with by law and by Yuan facts.

The People's Court of Dongtai City, Jiangsu Province held that, according to relevant provisions of "Wild Animal Protection Law of People's Republic of China", if protection of legally protected wild animals causes casualties, crops or other property, local people's government shall compensate for loss. In this case, Dafeng District Bureau of Natural Resources and Planning compensated more than 100,000 yuan based on opinions of relevant departments and referring to current standard of 550 yuan per mu for agricultural insurance in Dafeng District, Jiangsu Province, which is obviously low and does not reflect rationality of administrative compensation. basically. Based on actual situation in this case, Dafeng District Bureau of Natural Resources and Planning will compensate 70% of Jiang's reasonable damages of more than 360,000 yuan. After verdict was announced, neither side filed an appeal. The decision of court of first instance entered into force.

The judge who heard case pointed out that because contract land in question is located near buffer zone of Yancheng Rare Bird National Nature Reserve, Jiangsu Province, rice field contracted by contractor has become a "canteen" . for birds in wetland reserve. If contractor decides to drive away rice planted by wild birds in such a way thatcause no harm to wild birds, people's government must compensate contractor for damage caused by wild birds in wetlands. Based on principle of reasonableness of administrative compensation, people's court upheld relevant claims of contractor in accordance with law and better balanced balance between protecting public interest of wetland and protecting contractual rights and interests of right holders of wetland buffer land.

"The eagle strikes sky, fish flies in shallows, and all kinds of frost compete for freedom." wetlands and contribute to quality development of wetland conservation in my country.

Cover and table of contents

China Judgment Magazine Issue 12, 2023

China Judgment News Biweekly Issue No. 322

Editor/Sang Min