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WWF Panda Protection In Pingwu County


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Wanglang Nature Reserve

WWF Panda Protection in Pingwu County


An estimated 1/7 of the wild pandas in the world live in Pingwu County in northern Sichuan province. About 1/3 of the pandas in Pingwu County are protected in Wanglang Nature Reserve and the two other reserves in the county.


Wanglang Nature Reserve, in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has a continuing effort to improve panda protection efforts and panda habitat in Wanglang and all of Pingwu County.


WWF is an international wildlife conservation organization. Funding for WWF's work in Pingwu County is provided by WWF-UK, WWF-Nederthands, and WWF-US.




Why Pingwu County?

Of the estimated 1500 pandas that survive in the wild today, approximately 280 live in Pingwu County. Including captive pandas, approximately 1/7 of all pandas in the world live in Pingwu County! There are 3 panda reserves in Pingwu County, but 200 of the 280 pandas in the county live outside these 3 reserves. Therefore, all of Pingwu County, not just the reserves, is important in panda preservation efforts.


Pingwu County, particularly Wanglang, is also important because it borders on panda habitat and several reserves in adjacent counties. Protecting the panda habitat in Pingwu County helps to ensure panda migration routes are accessible. Then, when bamboo in one area where pandas live flowers and dies, the pandas will be able to move to new areas and will have bamboo to eat.




Threats to Pandas and Panda Habitat

There are several threats to pandas and panda habitat in Pingwu County including agriculture, mining, poaching (pandas get caught in snares set for various wild animals), and hydropower development. Traditionally, logging has been the major threat to panda habitat. Although the threat from logging has been reduced by the 1998 nation-wide logging ban, the possibility exits that logging will again be allowed sometime in the future.



Problems to Address

The three reserves in the county lack funds to operate their programs and need staff capacity building to increase the effectiveness of their protection efforts. The Chinese government does not provide funding for these reserves, and the county is unable to provide needed funding because their financial position has been hurt by the logging ban.


In the unprotected areas of the county the follow problems need to be addressed:

Lack of local resident ownership of the land.

Increased economic pressures from people seeking new income sources after the logging ban.

Increased population pressures as better health care and diet increases life span and decreases infant mortality.

Lack of knowledge by the local residents about how to sustainably use the resources of the forests.

Lack of a shared vision in government agencies about how to use and manage the land.




Problem Resolution Approach


  • Develop databases of the natural resources and socio-economic information for the county. A panda population and panda habitat survey, sponsored by WWF, was completed in 1998.
  • Identify the stakeholders critical to effective panda protection. Ongoing efforts are underway to identify and include the significant stakeholders - local communities, government agencies, funders, consultants, and other sources of technical support.
  • Conduct land use planning and resource management education. All stakeholders in the government and private agencies and organizations that are involved in the planning, development, and management process need to be aware of the consequences of their decisions and actions.
  • Implement environmental education with local communities. Local people - adults and children - need to understand the need for effective conservation and preservation efforts.
  • Determine effective alternative income sources for local residents. In an effort to reduce local use of panda habitat for economic reasons, help local communities with economic development.


Targeted Project Outcomes


Effective panda and panda habitat protection both in the areas of the county that are currently in protected reserves and in the areas that are not under reserve protection.


Protected Areas Goals:

  • Adequate capacity - reserve staff is appropriately trained in modern management and resource protection techniques.
  • Adequate funds - reserves have the manpower and the equipment they need to appropriately protect the resources.


Unprotected Areas Goals:

  • Local resident have appropriate ownership and control of the resources and are able to sustainably manage panda habitat to provide for their own livelihoods and for maximum protection of the pandas.
  • Where possible, local residents have sources of alternative livelihood that do not require that they use the resources in the panda's habitat. Eco-tourism has been identified as an important part of this effort.
  • All government agencies and local stakeholders have a shared vision regarding the allowable uses and the protection policies of this important panda habitat.
  • The process and outcomes that led to these outcomes have been adequately documented and shared with other relevant parties.




Wanglang Area Eco-tourism Goals

The overall goal of developing eco-tourism is to improve panda and panda habitat protection. This goal will be achieved by two main means:

  1. Providing income to Wanglang Reserve, the local communities, and the local government. Eco-tourism income will reduce the pressure for exploitation of resources that affect the panda's habitat, both in the reserves and outside the reserves.
  2. Providing environmental education to visitors to the Reserve. Visitor education will create a base of good-will and support for the preservation efforts of the reserve and the rest of the county.


Eco-tourism Activities


• Wanglang Reserve

Build lodge and guest facilities, including library, visitor information center, research and study facilities. (completed in 2000)

            Train Staff (in process)

Develop ecotourism activities including guided walks and treks, interpretive self-guided nature trails, and wildlife viewing stations. (in process)

            Establish Visitor Environmental Education Program (in process)

• Baima Communities:

Advice on tourism - understanding the needs and requirements of both Chinese and foreign visitors.

Develop ecotourism activities such as home-stays, demonstration of traditional dance and song, handicraft sales, and guided walks to help generate income to improve local livelihoods and motivate local people to conserve their culture and panda habitat.

Community improvement projects - funding for water, sanitation, power, etc. to make tourist accommodations safe and comfortable.

Micro-credit - a small loan program to help the economically disadvantaged members of the community improve their income by providing goods and services needed in the eco-tourism business.

• Local Tourist Bureau:

Build awareness about ecotourism among County officials and tour operators. Help guide plans for sustainable tourism development.

Capacity building - help develop the capacity of the local tourist bureau to promote tourism and to adequately identify and serve the needs of the tourist industry.




Issues and Problems

Because of the limited resources of the residents and government of the county, there is continual pressure for a quick financial return to provide income and services for county residents. The question of how to allocate limited natural and financial resources amongst competing development and conservation requirements is a constant issues. In order to best address these critical issues, all community and governmental entities that can potentially affect the success of this effort must be included in all phases of the project.



Outside Pingwu County


The influence of this WWF project may, and has already to some extent, reach beyond Pingwu County.

  • The development of an eco-tourism capability at Wanglang Reserve will provide much needed income to the Reserve. This project may be a catalyst for other reserves to create eco-tourism facilities and programs.
  • Wanglang is currently using a geographic information system (GIS) in their resource management efforts and has shared their expertise in this area with other reserves.


Published by Wanglang Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China.

Last updated January 22, 2001. Send comments to: roger_ratcliff@hotmail.com