Good news for panda lovers! China has plans to make a panda reserve so big, it’ll be thrice the size of Yellowstone National Park or larger than the land areas of NYC, LA, Tokyo, Paris, London, and Melbourne COMBINED.
Part of the Chinese government’s conservation efforts, the park will merge 67 existing nature reserves from across three provinces (namely Gansu, Sichuan, and Shaanxi), with a total area of 10,476 square miles (or 27,134 square kilometres).
The massive project hopes to create a single place where it will be easier for the pandas living in these regions to meet and mate. It also aims to protect more than 8,000 endangered plants and animals found there.
“It will be a haven for biodiversity and provide protection for the whole ecological system,” Hou Rong, the director of the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province, told Xinhua. “Many scientists and conservation experts support the building of a national park.”
Sadly, more than 170,000 people will have to be relocated to make way for the reserve.
Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the panda from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ in the Red List of Threatened Species. There are currently 1,864 pandas in the wild and 200 more in captivity.
“Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment,” WWF Director-General Marco Lambertini said.
“The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”