China is a land known for its beauty, but also a lack of practices by which to protect that beauty. The times are a-slowly changing, though, and Chinese officials are making a commitment to protect at least some of the natural areas in their country. To achieve that goal, China is looking to create a network of national parks much like the system the United States launched over 140 years ago.

China national parks system

The preservation of natural resources and beauty might seem like a strange move for a nation that recently proposed to cut through the Amazon with a 3,300 mile railway network. China also lacks a reputation for protecting their environment, so a national parks system seems a bit oxymoronic. Some of the areas in China where nature is thriving are currently under threat from pollution and construction, and the government has done little to intervene over the years.

Related: 10 of the most gorgeous national parks you’ve likely never heard about

A shift occurred in December 2013 when, according to state news reports, Xi Jinping, the country’s president and head of the Communist Party, urged economic policy makers to move forward with a true national park system in China. Apparently, they listened. To that end, China has partnered with a Chicago-based research center, the Paulson Institute, to launch a trial of national park projects in nine provinces over the next three years.

Via The New York Times

Lead image via Shutterstock, images via Flickr users ReurinkjanAlexander Savin, and Matt Ming.