The possible influx of tourists will not threaten the habitat of
giant pandas that was listed as a World Heritage Site on Wednesday,
local officials said.
Tourists will no longer be allowed to visit some core areas of
the habitat although they were permitted to do so before the
heritage listing, said Hu Bin, deputy director of the tourism
department of southwest China's Sichuan Province, at a press conference on
The new World Heritage Site is a giant panda habitat stretching
in the Qionglai mountain chain.
The habitat covers nine scenic spots and eight natural reserves,
where about 300 giant pandas and other rare wildlife species live
on a total area of 9,510 square kilometers.
Citing the province's successful experience in protecting
Jiuzhaigou, a world natural heritage site listed in 1992, Hu said
Sichuan Province is able to offset the pressure on the panda
habitat caused by tourists' influx.
Hu said the scenic resort of Jiuzhaigou has set an example for
the province to follow in seeking balance between tourism
development and heritage protection.
The province will set up world heritage management offices of
various administrative levels in the giant panda habitat area to
coordinate protection efforts on the rare animal.
Tourists can enter no more than one percent of the total area of
Wolong, a well-known reserve where a topnotch giant panda research
center lies, said Zhang Liming, an official with the Wolong
In the future, the protection will aim to incorporate separated
habitats and enlarge the genetic bank of giant pandas, said Cui
Xuezhen, former director of the Fengtongzhai natural reserve.
"The current giant panda habitats are separated by rivers and
roads, which make it almost impossible for them to migrate," Cui
China launched a program named "the giant panda ecological
corridor" in 1987 to plant bamboo forests among the relatively
isolated giant panda habitat areas so that they will be
Local governments are also removing factories and buildings from
the domain of giant pandas.
(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2006)