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Giant Panda National Park Officially Established

  The Giant Panda National Park is officially established, which was announced at the Leaders' Summit of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Kunming of Yunnan Province on the afternoon of October 12.

  Giant panda is a flagship species for biodiversity protection in the world. Back on April 1, 1869, it made its first appearance to the scientific world when Pere Armand David, a French naturalist then in China, discovered a giant panda in Baoxing County of Ya'an City. Since then, giant panda had been listed as endangered species for many years.

  From 1960s to present, China has established 67 natural protected areas for giant pandas to protect and restore their habitats. However, these protection management authorities are not concentrated enough, unified management cannot be ensured, and planning zones often overlap. Due to these factors, the problem of fragmented and siloed habitat management cannot be solved radically, which has posed a severe threat to the health of the giant panda population.

  Therefore, China has decided to establish the Giant Panda National Park to deal with the problem. A national park is one of the most important natural protected areas in China, which is prohibited from exploiting in the major functional zoning and included in the scope of area for drawing red lines for protecting the ecosystems with the strictest protection.

  "Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu used to build protected areas for giant pandas separately, giving rise to a lack of efficient communication and connection between these provinces and also between the protected areas in each province in terms of system and mechanism. So it is necessary to coordinate and advance the establishment work from a higher level." According to Zhang Hemin, former executive deputy director of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, establishing the Giant Panda National Park can remove the barriers caused by administrative division, system, and mechanism, facilitate the implementation of ecological restoration projects, consolidate the fragmented habitats and protect the authenticity and completeness of natural ecosystems.

  In January 2017, China started piloting the mechanism of the Giant Panda National Park on a full scale. It was the first time that China has piloted the mechanism of national park for a single species to protect its habitats and ecosystems.

  The piloting zone covers Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu, with the total area approaching 27,000 square kilometers. Of the three subzones, Sichuan subzone occupies an area of 20,000 square kilometers, accounting for 74% of the total area.

  Besides, the piloting plan submitted to the central government and many pieces of advice put forward in the piloting process by Sichuan were adopted, which made Wang Hongjia, chief planner of the Sichuan Provincial Administration of the Giant Panda National Park, very happy. Since the start of the piloting work in Sichuan subzone, 68 square kilometers of corridor vegetation has been restored, and more than 8,000 species of associated animals and plants have been protected simultaneously. Meanwhile, a mechanism for joint construction, management and sharing has been explored and developed and franchising has been allowed but within a proper scope to mitigate the contradictions between protection and development.

  "Establishing the Giant Panda National Park means a new start rather than an end." According to Li Tianman, Director of the Sichuan Provincial Administration of the Giant Panda National Park, Sichuan will advance the establishment of the Giant Panda National Park with higher quality as per the general planning and provide a "Sichuan approach" to China's endeavor to develop a system of natural protected areas with national parks playing the leading role.

 
 
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