Good news in biodiversity is so rare — all we hear is that we are losing species every year — that when China announced that the beloved giant panda is no longer classified as an endangered species in China, we can only celebrate.
Now reclassified as a “vulnerable” species, the latest census from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment counts over 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild.
Cui Shuhong, director of the Department of Natural Ecological Protection of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), credited the population recovery to the nature reserves created in the last decades.
China’s massive reforestation project is also behind this success. Since its launch in 1999, the Grain-for-Green program has converted 70 million acres of land — more than the total area of the UK — into forest.
Bamboo forests are essential to the black-and-white bear’s survival, with bamboo shoots forming over 99% of its diet. Pandas eat an enormous amount of this single foodstuff to sustain themselves, consuming around 45lb a day.
The return of the giant panda’s habitat to swathes of the Chinese countryside has laid the path for the further recovery of the giant panda population.
Costing $100 billion, Grain-for-Green is the world’s leading reforestation project, setting the standard for conservation investment across the globe. The giant panda’s new classification is evidence of its success.
The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services also reports that alongside the giant panda, “Populations of endangered species such as the Tibetan antelope … the crested ibis and the snow leopard have grown substantially.”
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“China has made commendable progress in the field of biodiversity conservation, with both government investments and citizen awareness rising steadily.”
The report also notes, however, that “global biodiversity continues to decline, 75% of the Earth surface and 66% of the ocean have been changed due to human activities.”
The WWF’s Living Planet Index tracks the population abundance of thousands of mammals, birds, and fish from around the world. This index shows an overall decline in population sizes of 68% between 1970 and 2020, an 8% increase from 2014.
The giant panda’s new status is great news. The path to global recovery will be one composed of many such successes. But even the giant panda has a long way to go before full recovery.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: A panda resting in the sun. Featured Photo Credit: Pixabay.