1. Project Summary and Relationship to China's Agenda 21
This project seeks to build a nature reserve network for the Giant Panda in the Qionglai Mountain System. The proposed reserve will increase the natural habitat of the Giant Panda population and facilitate the efforts for in-situ conservation of the species. It is to be hoped that these efforts will help stabilise the current Giant Panda population so that a successful rehabilitation can take place in the near future. Conservation of the species can be accomplished through scientific research of the wild population, enhancement of the research and management capabilities of management institutions and the creation of nature reserves for the Giant Panda.
The project is based on programme area 15A of China's Agenda 21, and is related to programme area 14E.
Native only to China, the dwindling habitat of the Giant Panda is distributed in 34 counties along the 5 mountain systems of Minshan, Qionglai, Liangshan, Daxiaoxinanling and Qinling in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. This area covers 13,000 square km and supports a total population of about 1,000. Human activities and the destruction of natural habitat have divided the Giant Panda population into over 20 isolated colonies. In some colonies, only 3-5 Giant Pandas remain. This has created a loss of genetic diversity and is endangering the existence of the Giant Panda population. Scientific research has indicated that the most effective way to protect species on the verge of extinction is to conserve their habitats and link them together. This creates conditions for gene exchange among isolated colonies. In addition, proper ex-situ conservation measures must be taken to accelerate the stability and rehabilitation of their population.
Qionglai Mountain System is the major breeding ground for the existing Giant Panda population. The inventory of the Giant Panda population conducted from 1985 to 1988 indicated that about 230 Giant Pandas were separated among 5 habitats in the 3,454.5 square km mountain system. Although the age structure of the Giant Panda population in Qionglai Mountain System is advantageous to the stability of the population, the separation of panda communities has imposed restrictions on the stability and development of the population. Therefore the project will establish a network of nature reserves in Qionglai Mountain System to connected existing habitats. This will facilitate the interaction of the Giant Panda from different colonies and accelerate the rehabilitation and development of the population in this region.
In recent years the Giant Panda species has shown differentiation in genetic diversity and environmental adaptability because of its divided distribution in separated mountain systems and human development activities in the mountain systems. Since the Giant Panda is mainly distributed in remote and underdeveloped areas, the local people have limited awareness for wildlife conservation, and the capacity of the staff is not adequate to meet the requirements for research, management and administration of the reserve.
This project will provide theoretical guidance for conservation of the species through analysis of genetic diversity on the geographic population of the Giant Panda and research on individual growth and behaviour. The project will also enhance public awareness of Giant Panda conservation through public education in the distribution area of the Giant Panda and training of staff in nature reserves. The project is the main part of the Project for Conservation of the Giant Panda and its Habitat. This project was approved by the State Council and the State Planning Commission in June of 1992, and is being implemented by the Ministry of Forestry of China.
From 1985 to 1988, the Ministry of Forestry of China and the WWF organised an integrated field study on the Giant Panda and its habitat. As a result of this study, the "Integrated Study Report on the Giant Panda and its habitat" was prepared. Based on this report, "The Conservation and Management Plan for China's Giant Panda and its habitat" was formulated and initiated in June 1992. The main contents of the plan include: (1) improving the development and management of the 13 established nature reserves for the Giant Panda; (2) establishing 14 new nature reserves in the Giant Panda concentrated areas and important habitats of the Giant Panda; (3) developing the corridor zones for the Giant Panda; (4) developing conservation stations for the Giant Panda habitat outside its nature reserves; (5) enhancing scientific research on the Giant Panda ecology and captive breeding. With the implementation of this large-scale project, China has raised funds for infrastructure construction in 13 nature reserves. The Ministry of Forestry and some local governments have established special offices for conservation of the Giant Panda and its habitat. They have also formed a management system with about 1,000 full-time or part-time staff.
Located in the Qionglai Mountain System, the Wolong and Fengtongzhai Nature Reserves of Sichuan province are among the 13 established nature reserves for the Giant Panda. Since the 1980's, WWF and China have conducted studies, in the Wolong Nature Reserve, on the ecology and management of the Giant Panda population in the wild. The study has provided both scientific supports and qualified personnel for the implementation of this project. The implementing agencies will also include Beijing University, Sichuan Normal University, China (Wolong) Research Centre for Conservation of the Giant Panda, Sichuan Associated University and Northeast Forestry University, all of which have made great contributions to the research on the Giant Panda in recent years.
3.1 Long-term Objective To realise effective protection of the Giant Panda by improving its habitat, enhancing in-situ conservation and management level, along with stabilising and developing the Giant Panda population.
3.2 Immediate Objectives
* Construct the nature reserves for the Giant Panda and corridor located in Qionglai Mountain System, connect the disintegrated Giant Panda habitats, strengthen conservation and management of the Giant Panda and its habitats in an effort to promote the rehabilitation and development of its population;
* Carry out scientific research on the Giant Panda with emphasis on in-situ conservation, and monitor the changing trend of the Giant Panda population and dynamic changes of its habitats;
* Conduct personnel training, enhance the protective capability of the nature reserves for the Giant Panda and upgrade the qualifications of the staff in conservation and research institutions and nature reserves.
4. Outputs and activities
4.1 Improve the network of nature reserves in Qionglai Mountain System
* Improve the infrastructure construction of Fengtongzhai National Nature Reserve and enhance capacity building of the nature reserves;
* Work out the master plan for infrastructure construction of the new Labahe Nature Reserve and the disposition of personnel;
* Work out the master plan for infrastructure construction of the new Anzihe Nature Reserve and the disposition of personnel;
* Complete the construction of six green corridors for the Giant Panda, extending from Caopo to Wolong, from Pitiaohe to Zhenghe, from Chongqing to Dayi, from Lushan to Baoxingdonghe, from Donghe to Xihe and from Pujigou to Ganyanggou.
Monitoring Indicators: the master plan for the three nature reserves of Fengtongzhai, Labahe, and Anzihe, conduct inventory and design, and develop conservation facilities.
Implementing Agencies: implemented jointly by Department of Forestry of Sichuan province and relevant nature reserves under the supervision of Ministry of Forestry.
Time Schedule: June 1995 - December 1999
4.2 Research on population ecology, behaviour, growth and genetics of the Giant Panda in the wild
* Comparative study on the geographical conditions of major distributed mountain systems of the Giant Panda and its adaptability;
* Research on individual growth and behaviour of the Giant Panda;
* Analysis on the genetic diversity of the Giant Panda population and its geographical distribution by hair-analysis. Monitoring Indicators: provide relevant research reports and papers as well as relative genetic diversity index of geographical population.
Implementing Agencies: implemented jointly by the Department of Forestry of Sichuan province, Beijing University, Sichuan Normal University, Northeast Forestry University, Sichuan Associated University, Wildlife Resources Inventory and Management Station of Sichuan province under the supervision of Ministry of Forestry.
Time Schedule: January 1996 - December 2001
4.3 Monitoring of the changes of the Giant Panda population in the wild and its habit
* Routine patrol and monitoring of the nature reserves of the Giant Panda;
* Monitoring of the biological cycle of bamboo growth in the nature reserves of the Giant Panda;
* Development of the database and Geographic Information System (GIS) for the distributed areas and habitat of the Giant Panda.
Monitoring Indicators: set up a patrol and monitoring network for the nature reserves, work out regulations on monitoring techniques, and establish the database and GIS for the distributed areas and habitat of the Giant Panda.
Implementing Agencies: implemented jointly by Wildlife Resources Inventory and Management Station, Sichuan province, major nature reserves for the Giant Panda, and Northeast Forestry University, Sichuan Normal University under the supervision of Ministry of Forestry.
Time Schedule: January 1997 - December 2004
4.4 Capacity building of the management and research institutions for the Giant Panda
* Set up a data maintenance criterion and monitoring system;
* Conduct training on data collection, analysis and maintenance for the staff;
* Conduct training on public relations, publicity and education for the staff. Monitoring Indicators: the management staff (about 100) for conservation of the Giant Panda at provincial, municipal and county levels and 300 staff members in 27 nature reserves will have improved professional proficiency and scientific research capacity. They will be able to collect and process data, and conduct initial scientific research.
Implementing Agencies: implemented jointly by Department of Forestry of Sichuan province and relevant nature reserves under the supervision of Ministry of Forestry
Time Schedule: January 1997 - December 1999
4.5 Enhance public awareness of conservation
* Set up a Publicity and Education Centre for Conservation of the Giant Panda and Rare and Precious Wild Fauna and Flora, with all necessary facilities;
* Publish small-sized publicity materials and children's books on conservation of endangered wild fauna, the Giant Panda in particular;
* Shoot video shows on the life of the Giant Panda and its conservation status;
* Launch a publicity campaign for the public, the teenagers and the local residents living near the Giant Panda habitat in particular, to enhance public awareness of conservation.
Monitoring Indicators: local residents have enhanced their awareness of conservation of the Giant Panda and the environmental degradation threat which nature reserves face is alleviated to a certain extent.
Implementing Agencies: Department of Forestry of Sichuan province and relevant nature reserves under the auspices of Ministry of Forestry
Time Schedule: January 1997 - December 1999
5.1 Chinese Inputs
The Chinese inputs mainly include the following: research and management staff of the project, office equipment for the operation of the project, expenses in certain infrastructure construction and the training expenses for some personnel.
5.2 International Inputs
The international inputs mainly include experts in such fields as nature reserve construction, management and planning, guiding funds for scientific research, training and construction projects, and purchase of facilities.
The total capital needed for this project is US$ 11.44 million. The Chinese participants will raise US$ 4.14 million from domestic sources, while foreign aid and investment will cover the other US$ 7.30 million.
Table 1. Budget by Item (in million US dollars)
Table 2. Budget by Output (in million US dollars)
The implementation of the project will increase the Giant Panda population in the Qionglai Mountain System, which already account for 20.9% of the country's total panda population and 25.5% of the total habitat area under protection. This will further enhance conservation and research on the Giant Panda. Meanwhile it will provide an ideal base for practice, publicity and education, increase public awareness of conservation and strengthen professional proficiency of the Giant Panda Management and Research Institutions.
Limited domestic funding is a disadvantage for the implementation of the project. The implementing agencies of the project will mobilise all parties concerned to solve the problem through the co-ordination of government departments and the assistance of various circles. As a large-scale project, the Project for Conservation of China's Giant Panda and its Habitat involves the interests of many departments and local residents, increasing the difficulties of operation. The implementing agencies of the project will co-ordinate the interests of the departments concerned and local residents to ensure its success.