30 Years in China
In 1980, nineteen years after choosing the Giant Panda as their logo, World Wildlife Fund entered China. As the first environmental group invited by the government to work in China, WWF had the mission of saving the remaining Giant Panda and Snow Leopard populations, as well as other rare and exotic animals and landscapes.
Field research on the reclusive giant panda had started with China’s Ministry of Forestry doing the first panda survey between 1974 and 1977. WWF was invited and participated in the mid 1980’s in a study that identified priority conservation areas. By the end of 2003, China had established 40 panda reserves that protected 60% of the giant pandas.
China is also a home to the Siberian Tiger and Amur Leopard. Human pressures, including poaching, pollution and logging of their forest, have threatened their population. Since 2001, WWF has worked with three Chinese provinces to protect almost 8.4 million acres. They have now identified High Conservation Value Forests in the region, and are working on improving and managing the existing and new protected areas.
China’s main river, the Yangtze, is home to the endangered Yangtze dolphin and Chinese sturgeon. A worsening cycle of flood and drought are challenging the people living along the river. WWF has been applying their “Living River” management model, that sees the Yangtze’s branches, and connected lakes and wetlands, as part of a web of life. With WWF’s encouragement, provincial governors and key ministers for the area’s water, environment, forest, and agriculture sectors gathered in 2005 to develop a common strategy and action plan for protecting the entire Yangtze basin.
WWF has also worked with Chinese communities to restore farmland to its former wetland state, while developing conservation-friendly alternative livelihoods for the local people which tripled their household incomes. A similar program near Dongting Lake has witnessed the return of over 10,000 birds and 50 species of fish.
The next 30 years will likely see continued amazingly fast economic development and growing population. WWF has a conservation vision focused on the health and survival of the region’s natural treasures, as well as the prosperity of its local communities. Their view includes sustainable sourcing, production, and consumption across global supply chains.
We wish WWF the best of luck in creating more conservation successes in China.
More details are available in WWF’s press release.