China: eco-tourism ecological role in conservation of giant panda

Giant pandas are an endangered species, continuously threatened by the impoverishment of their habitat and a very low birth rate

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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China: eco-tourism ecological role in conservation of giant panda

Giant pandas are an endangered species, continuously threatened by the impoverishment of their habitat and a very low birth rate. About 1,600 are believed to survive in the natural state. To overcome the lack of information on pandas, it was decided to build a research center in the Wolong Valley in China.

A captive breeding center was also created. The results of this research were used to draw up detailed projects to create and manage reserves in which to place the remaining specimens: these projects include, among other things, the creation of forest corridors that connect the various reserves, an intervention on the territory aimed at reintroduction of numerous species of bamboo, in order to avoid that the plants all die in the same period, and the implementation of initiatives to induce the inhabitants of the forests and villages to proceed selectively in the distribution of bamboo forests.

However, in recent years, the risk of the giant panda has decreased relatively to such an extent that it is no longer properly considered endangered. The panda feeds on bamboo shoots, plants that die after flowering: in its habitat there are numerous species and this prevents them from blooming and dying simultaneously; on the other hand, in the areas contaminated by human intervention there are often a few types of bamboo.

In 1975, with unfortunately simultaneous flowering of all remaining bamboo species, the pandas were left without food and were decimated.

China: eco-tourism ecological role in conservation of giant panda

The study: The role of eco-tourism in ecological conservation in giant panda nature reserve, published on the Journal of environmental management, explained: "Eco-tourism is rapidly developing in giant panda nature reserves in China, and is considered a popular tool for biodiversity conservation and the welfare of local communities.

However, there is lack of empirical evidence on whether eco-tourism promotes the conservation behavior of local members, who live around nature reserves. To this end, this study constructed a framework to measure households' forest conservation activities, and conducted a questionnaire survey in 12 giant panda nature reserves in Sichuan Province, China.

A total of 686 valid samples were obtained. A logit model was used to confirm whether income from community-based ecotourism (CBET) could enhance households' conservation behavior. The results show that households prefer three types of conservation practices, and CBET could significantly improve the income of households engaged in it Income from CBET has motivated local households to participate in conservation activities; however, but the effects ar and different.

In all three conservation activities, income from CBET has shown significant effects on promoting forest maintenance and protection activities, but not on reforestation ones. The results of this research could help us better understand the relationship between CBET and local households' conservation behavior. It also provides information for policymakers seeking for the best way to balance conservation and development. "