Panda sanctuary in China added to World Heritage list

Posted on 13 July 2006

WWF welcomes the listing of China’s Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, home to over 30 per cent of the world’s endangered giant pandas, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sichuan, China – The United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed on its World Heritage Site list China’s Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, home to over 30 per cent of the world’s endangered giant pandas.

The newly listed Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary — covering 924,500ha over seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains — constitutes the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda.

“The successful recognition of the Sichuan panda habitat as a World Heritage site will provide a great opportunity for wild giant panda conservation in China,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

“The listing will also benefit the conservation of many other rare or endangered species in the area, including the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard.”

According to a recent survey, there are approximately 1,600 pandas in the wild. However, habitat loss and the unsustainable use of natural resources have pandas clinging to survival across their range, as large areas of natural forest have been cleared for agriculture, timber and fuelwood. Because of China’s dense human population, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1,000–1,200 metres in width.

WWF has been working with the Chinese government to ensure the future of the giant panda. To date, over 50 panda reserves have been created, protecting more than 10,400km2 and over 45 per cent of remaining giant panda habitat.

“We are happy to see the success of our conservations efforts recognized by the inclusion the Sichuan panda habitat on to the World Heritage Site list,” added Lieberman. “This is certainly a step in the right direction to help further protect the panda.”

Active in giant panda conservation for 25 years, WWF offered technical and scientific support to the World Heritage Committee to help determine the significant natural value of the listed area. UNESCO's World Heritage List, created in 1972, includes some 830 natural and cultural sites of outstanding universal value.

For further information:
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager
WWF Global Species Programme
Tel: +39 06 84497 212
Giant Panda, 8 months old Male born 5.10.1994 Wolong, China May 1995
© WWF / Susan A. MAINKA