Everyone loves giant pandas. How could you not? Huge, fluffy, clumsy and cute: they’re just the ideal animal. And clearly the Chinese government thinks the same. That’s why it’s establishing the Giant Panda National Park, one of many national parks being established throughout the country to protect threatened ecosystems.
For decades, China didn’t have formal national parks, instead favouring a system of 10,000 nature reserves that were locally organised and not coordinated at a national level.
But that’s all about to change. Last Friday (October 15), at the COP15 ‘biodiversity summit’ in Kunming, the country launched its National Park System, including its first batch of official parks. They’re all designed to protect particular native species.
For example, there’s the Giant Panda National Park, which, as its name suggests, is dedicated to pandas. More than 75 percent of the global panda population lives in the area, which is spread across the three provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu, and includes the Minshan, Qionglai, Daxiangling and Qinling mountains.
Other parks are dedicated to the conservation of the Northeast China tiger, Siberian leopard and the Hainan black-crested gibbon. Taking in China’s enormous array of ecosystems, which range from desert to sea and mountains to rainforest, the new national parks will total 230,000 square kilometres – just under the size of the entire UK.
Pandas are no longer technically endangered, having experienced a 17 percent population increase over the past decade. Earlier this year, the WWF upgraded their status to ‘vulnerable’ – though it should be pointed out that there are still only around 1,800 in the wild.
So, hopefully that upward trend continues, huh? Then, maybe sometime soon, the Giant Panda National Park will be practically overflowing with the black-and-white beasts. And we reckon it’ll feel just a little bit like heaven.
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