The ecological environment of the province represents special diversity and relative integrity, relatively good recoverability and high degree of protection. From east to west, it has a natural formation of such four ecotopes as the eastern Changbai Mountain primeval forest ecotope, the central and eastern hilly secondary vegetation ecotope, the central Songliao Plain ecotope and the western prairie wetland.
The eastern Changbai Mountain has an immense forest, high forest cover, intact forest ecosystem, abundant organism species and abundant precipitation, and it is an important ecological barrier for Jilin Province and Northeast Asia.
The central and eastern hills have dense and natural secondary forests and planted forests and high forest cover. It is an important section of the Songhua River and also the upper reaches of "three lakes" (Baishan Lake, Hongshi Lake and Songhua Lake) and the Dongliao River, with abundant water and mineral resources.
The central Songliao Plain boasts vast expanse of fertile land, flat terrain, a sound agricultural protection forest system and a stronger environmental carrying capacity. With favorable conditions to develop quality agricultural product production, it has a reputation of "golden corn belt" and "hometown of black soil", serving as an important production base of marketable grain in China.
In the western prairie wetland, an extended strand of Horqin Grassland, there is a vast stretch of grassland, densely scattered ponds, a fairly large area of wetland and ample underground water and transit water. It is not only a transition zone of ecological system shifting from humid forest grassland to semi-dry grassland and desert and also an important channel of bird migration and a homeland of red-crowned cranes. With a low-lying topography and fairly good light and heat conditions, it has been a key area to develop agriculture and animal husbandry.
The province has 44 nature reserves at all levels and of all types, including 19 national nature reserves, 16 provincial nature reserves, and 9 city- and county-level nature reserves. Total area of these nature reserves reached 2.43 million hectares, accounting for 12.96% of the province's land area. In 1980, UNESCO designated Changbai Mountain as the protecting net of "Man and Biosphere". In 1992, Changbai Mountain is rated as an international Grade A natural reserve by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Superior natural and ecological environment of Jilin Province has provided preferable basic conditions for economic and social sustainable development. In 1999, the state approved Jilin Province to be a pilot province for ecological construction. In 2001, the province implemented the "Outline for the Overall Planning of Ecological Construction in Jilin Province". In 2006, Jilin Province established Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Management Committee to carry out centralized management and protection of Changbai Mountain development. Since the implementation of ecological construction, Jilin Province has conducted a series of ecological protection projects. Remarkable achievements have been made in the construction of ecological civilization.
Jilin adopted mandatory measures to protect the resources of the eastern Changbai Mountain and gave priorities to protection for biodiversity and unique landscapes in geology and terrain, recovery of forest ecosystem, development of forest carbon sequestration and exertion of whole ecosystem function; furthermore, Jilin strengthened construction of natural reserves and management of bio-safety to protect wild animals and plants, rare and endangered living beings and wetland resources. It adopted initiative protection for water resources in the east central region and implemented the water resource protection projects of Baishan, Jingyu source of mineral water and Erlong Lake reservoir in Siping, and the protection projects regarding water pollution prevention & control of the Songhua River and the Dongliao River, small watershed management and "three lakes" for the Songhua River. Jilin adopted positive protection for black soil resources in the central region. Specifically, it conducted the comprehensive key control projects of water and soil loss in black soil areas, built the high-standard farmland, generalized the application of organic fertilizers in allusion to black soil resources of 19 counties in the central region. Jilin turned to urgent conservation for ecological fragile region in the southwest. To achieve this goal, Jilin placed emphasis on the projects relating to the reclamation of western saline-alkali soils and protective wetland construction of Xianghai, Boluo Lake and Chagan Lake in the western 13 counties (areas); besides, it also formulated and released Jilin's Plan for Wetlands Protection; consequently, the province effectively recovered and enhanced the area of wetlands, grassland with three ecological problems (land saline-alkalization, grassland degeneration and land desertification) and soil and water loss; the beautiful scene of rippling Oasis and wild profusion of vegetation reappeared at the western wetlands.
Jilin thoroughly implemented the ten-year project of landscaping and beautifying Jilin and launched the construction projects for natural forest protection, farmland shelter-forest, returning land for farming to forestry, three-north shelter forest and desertification control. The province's forest area hikes to 8.281 million hectares at present, from 8.176 million hectares at the end of the "tenth five-year plan" period; percentage of forest cover rises to 43.8%, from 43.2% in the past; and remarkable improvement has been made in forest vegetation, forest structure and biodiversity.
The province developed 11 national-level ecological townships, 30 provincial-level ecological towns and 94 provincial-level ecological villages, of which Tonghua County has been the province's first ecological county.
(Updated to July 14, 2015)