The main is easily stated:
Established in each Chinese province, supported permanently by provincial agencies, utilized by them and others, a Natural Heritage Conservation Data/Decision Center which operates on the basis of the core methodology employed in the network of such centers long established in states and provinces in other parts of the world.
The data gathered by the center, data constantly updated, proves which elements (species and ecosystem types) of the province's biodiversity are rarest and most in need of protection -- and also precisely where each is located.
As maintainers of this data, the NHCDC is consulted by planners of all sorts as a first step in making any decision which impacts biodiversity. "Come here first," is in effect on each NHCDC's logo, and this is in fact the way such centers currently operate throughout a significant part of the globe.
Although centers provide essential data for any project which affects the landscape, they are not confined to responding to requests. They are proactive as well. A significant part of their job is to analyze the data they amass and produce lists of elements which deserve highest priority and plans for the best places and ways to achieve their protection.
The dream entails a process of development based on that which led to the successful establishment of the existing network: a central conservation organization (enabled by funds from a variety of sources to support itself over a long period of time) cooperates with agencies, universities, and other organizations in each province in planning the creation, operation, and support of the NHCDC for the province.
Once the plan has been agreed to, the central organization hires scientifically proficient locals (usually recent PhDs) to staff the center, trains them in the core methodology, and supervises their work for several years. This process of development is fundamentally a bottom-up process (ie, province-by-province), but any top-down aid which can be secured is enthusiastically put to use as well.
The central organization also facilitates interaction and sharing among centers. One thing shared is data, something made possible by use of the same core methodology by all centers. In certain cases, critically important elements of biodiversity also occur in a neighboring jurisdiction, and data must be shared between these jurisdictions in order to obtain an accurate overall assessment of the element's status. Other tasks are to facilitate exchange of problems which centers encounter and solutions which are of general benefit.
Still another task is to enable central, national databases for certain aspects of the overall effort, databases upon which all members of the network can draw. Taxonomic change is one example of something which is best tracked centrally and made available throughout the network.
Most important is to continually advance the core methodology itself, particularly as technological advances occur not only in the field of data management and assessment but in the internet itself. The larger the network grows, the more voices there are contributing ideas and experiences to this effort, and the more successful it will be. The cloud offers an increasingly practical and valuable option for storing data, for enabling access to that data by qualified users, for dissemination of results, and for effective assistance to those seeking to protect biodiversity.
Still another dream recognizes that these data links and problem-solving links will also be vital between networks, so that fruitful international cooperation is achieved. Conferences and exchange of personnel become tools for broadening perceptions of issues and deepening understanding of what can be achieved. These tools need to be applied both within the network in China and between the Chinese network and networks elsewhere in the world. The dream is for a bridge between West and East, not simply a bridge of friendship and good-feeling, but a highly utilitarian connection over which - because both sides use a shared methodology and speak a common technological language - knowledge can pass and experiences exchanged in both directions.
There is another dream as well, which consists of expansion of the network to the rest of the countries in Asia. What an immense step forward in the protection of the vital elements of "the world's most valuable resource" that would be!