Nature Conservation in Transboundary Areas

Why North-East Asia Needs Transboundary Cooperation for Nature Conservation

North-East Asia provides a complex mosaic of habitats for many critically endangered species. North-East Asian countries established many domestic protected areas to conserve endangered species and to protect their habitats. However, animals and ecosystems are distributed regardless of national borders while the biodiversity management is based on the political delineation. There are over one hundred protected areas along international borders among North-East Asian countries and about two dozens of protected areas adjoin its neighboring protected areas across country borders. This situation requires transboundary cooperation to achieve goals as domestic efforts require support from neighboring protected areas across the borders. During the last decade, there has been growing webs of communication and collaboration across the borders, but the existing cooperation needs to be further strengthened by having a partnership platform that brings all stakeholders together to share information and undertake joint action, thereby making transboundary cooperation more efficient and effective.

In 2007, NEASPEC member States adopted the NEASPEC Nature Conservation Strategy in the 12th Senior Officials Meeting, which identified Amur Tiger, Amur Leopard, Snow Leopard, Black-faced Spoonbill, White-naped Crane and Hooded Crane as six flagship species that are critically endangered and unique in the North-East Asian subregion.


 Amur Tiger

There are only about 500 Amur tigers currently remaining in the wild. Nowadays, 95 percent of the tigers inhabit the Sikhote-Alin Mountain area in the Russian Federation while the rest are distributed in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces of China adjacent to the Chinese-Russian border.

Amur Leopard

Amur leopards used to live in the south of the Russian Far East, forested mountain areas of northeastern China, and the Korean peninsula. The leopards are currently on the brink of extinction, with only about 30 leopards remaining in the wild. In particular, about 20 inhabit the area in the Amur River Valley along the China-Russia Border while about 10 live in Ussuri River Valley along the China-DPRK border.

Snow Leopard

It was estimated that altogether 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards remain in the wild. In the Russian Federation, distribution of the snow leopard is limited to the Southern Siberian Mountains. In China, they are found in the Himalayas, Kunlun Mountains, Hengduan Mountains, Qilian Mountains, Tianshan Mountains and Altay Mountains. In Mongolia, highest densities are estimated to be in the South Gobi, Central Trans-Altai Gobi and the Northern Altai Mountains.

White-naped Crane

White-naped Cranes breed in northeastern Mongolia, northeastern China and in adjacent areas of the southeastern Russian Federation. Birds in the western portion of the breeding range migrate south through China, which is estimated to be at around 5,500 to 6,500. About 2,000 birds in the eastern portion of the breeding range migrate south through the Korean Peninsula. Around 300 birds remain on wintering grounds in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the DPRK and ROK. The remainder continues on to the Japanese island of Kyushu.

Hooded Crane

The estimated population of the species is about 9,200. The breeding grounds of Hooded Cranes are in southeastern Siberia of the Russian Federation, and northern China. More than 80 percent of Hooded Cranes spend the winter at Izumi Feeding Station on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Small numbers are found at Yashiro in southern Japan, in the ROK and DPRK and at several sites along the middle Yangtze River in China.

Black-faced  Spoonbill

The Black-Faced Spoonbill population as of 2012 census was recorded at 2,693 with an estimation of 1,600 mature birds. Black-Faced Spoonbill breeds on islets off the west coast of DPRK and ROK, and also in Liaoning province of China. The species have been reported in the Tumen estuary of the Russian Federation as well.


  • Conservation and Rehabilitation of Habitats for Key Migratory Birds in North-East Asia with Special Emphasis on Cranes and Black-faced Spoonbills

This project is to improve the conservation status and strengthen international cooperation for three key migratory birds (White-naped Crane, Hooded Crane, and Black-faced Spoonbill) and their wetland habitats. In order to meet the goals, the project plans to undertake (1) scoping survey in eight target sites, (2) joint study in Dauria International Protected Area and the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and (3) capacity building and awareness-raising on habitat management and conservation in 2014-2015.


  • Study on Transborder Movement of Amur Tigers and Leopards using Camera Trapping and Molecular Genetic Analysis

To design effective and efficient conservation policies and programmes for Amur tiger and leopard, it is critical to strengthen scientific understanding and incorporate such knowledge into the policy framework. As a two-year project, in this regard, camera trapping and DNA analysis on Amur tiger and leopard inhabiting in “Land of Leopard” National Park in the Russian Federation and Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces in China is being conducted from April 2014.

NEASPEC Secretariat