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Parks set to step up protection of pandas, big cats

Xu Wei
Updated: Dec 6,2016 9:13 AM     China Daily

China is set to establish a national park system to beef up the protection of giant pandas, Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, according to a decision made by the country’s leading group for overall reform.

A pilot program for a national park system will help increase the integrity, connectivity and coordination of the habitats of the three endangered animal species in China, according to a statement released after a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms.

The meeting on Dec 5, presided over by President Xi Jinping, reviewed and passed two pilot plans for national parks for the three species, the statement said.

The giant panda, Siberian tiger and Amur leopard, among the world’s most endangered species, have been put under top national protection. There are fewer than 70 Amur leopards in the world, most of which live in Russia’s Far East, the northeastern provinces of China and the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.

The statement said that the country will promote the overall protection and systematic restoration of the habitats of the three species to ensure their stable breeding.

The country will coordinate the development of the national park system and the endangered animal reserves and make breakthroughs in establishing fiscal support and improving the legal system.

Yao Sidan, head of the Department of Forestry in Sichuan province, which has the country’s largest giant panda habitat areas, said in August that the construction of railway lines, roads and power transmission lines has resulted in the fragmentation of panda reserves.

“The fragmentation increases the level of isolation for panda populations and increases the odds of extinction for small, isolated panda groups,” he said.