NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Unintended Consequence: Panda Reserve Attracts Humans

April 9, 2001

Ironically, a nature reserve established to protect China's pandas may have made them worse off, say researchers in the current issue of Science.

  • In the 20 years following the establishment of the Wolong Nature Reserve in 1975, the number of tourists and people living year-round within the area increased, and have resulted in a loss of panda habitat greater than that seen in unprotected areas outside the park.
  • Satellite photos show that farming, timbering, construction and roadwork activities by these people "were at least partially responsible for the dramatic decrease in the number of wild pandas in the reserve, from 145 in 1974 to 72 in 1986," say the authors.
  • Only 1,000 giant pandas live in the wild, about 10 percent of them within the nearly 500,000 acre reserve.

Researchers called on ecologists to take human activities into account in planning nature reserves.

Source: Wire & staff reports, "Humans Encroach on Pandas' Reserve," A Better Life, USA Today, April 9, 2001.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues