People and Pandas in Southwest China

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Universite Laval]On: 05 July 2014, At: 21:56Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of International Wildlife Law &PolicyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uwlp20

    People and Pandas in Southwest ChinaJaye B. Allan aa Master of Captive Vertebrate Management , Charles SturtUniversity , (2004), volunteer at the Chengdu Research Base of GiantPanda Breeding, China since 2004., AustraliaPublished online: 16 Dec 2008.

    To cite this article: Jaye B. Allan (2008) People and Pandas in Southwest China, Journal ofInternational Wildlife Law & Policy, 11:2-3, 156-188, DOI: 10.1080/13880290802470174

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13880290802470174

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  • Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 11:156188, 2008Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1388-0292 print / 1548-1476 onlineDOI: 10.1080/13880290802470174

    People and Pandas in Southwest China

    JAYE B. ALLAN1

    1. INTRODUCTION

    When the world thinks of the Peoples Republic of China,2 it thinks of themost populous nation on earth, at 1.3 billion human inhabitants. It also thinksof giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, of which there were an estimated1,590 in the wild, according to the Third National Giant Panda Survey (2004),plus another 185 pandas in captivity in about 35 zoos in China and elsewhere.3

    Giant pandas are Chinas national treasure and the flagship species in theMountains of Southwest China Biodiversity Hotspot.4 That hotspot harboursover 30 percent of Chinas higher plants, 50 percent of its birds and mammals,and 36 of Chinas 87 endangered terrestrial mammal species.5 Panda habitat,historically most of central and western China and northern Vietnam andMyanmar, is now reduced to the Minshan, Qinling, Qionglai, Liangshan,and Xiangling mountain ranges in the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi, andGansu in Southwest China.6 Giantpandas are also the emblem of the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a symbol of global endangered wildlifeconservation.

    Rapid economic development in China has been particularly focused onSichuan province, which has the third largest human population of any Chineseprovince.7 The Chinese central governments Great Western Development

    1 Master of Captive Vertebrate Management (Charles Sturt University, Australia, 2004), volunteer atthe Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China since 2004. Address for correspondence:Sanyuan Foreign Language School, Weiyi Road, Industrial Zone, XINDU 610503 Sichuan province,Peoples Republic of China. pandajaye@hotmail.com.

    2 Hereafter referred to simply as China.3 Zhang Zhihe, Director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, 2006 Giant Panda

    Calendar.4 In the year 2000 Conservation International designated 25 Global Biodiversity Hotspots, where the

    diversity of ecosystems, plants and animals is especially rich. The Mountains of Southwest ChinaBiodiversity Hotspot covers Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan and includes the worlds most biologicallydiverse temperate forest ecosystem. http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org

    5 CEPF, Mountains of Southwest China Hotspot: Ecosystem Profile 1,6 (2002). http://www.cepf.net6 WWF China. History of WWFs support of panda conservation in China. http://www.wwfchina.org/

    english/pandacentral/htm7 National Library of Medicine. Population of Sichuan Province. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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  • PEOPLE, PANDAS IN SOUTHWEST CHINA 157

    Policy8 is laying the infrastructure of modernization, including roads andirrigation schemes, dams, and power stations, albeit until as late as 2002without environmental impact assessment (EIA) or mitigation plan.,9 EIAsare now required by law for every project or program, and are at least partiallyadhered to.10 Even within and around nature reserves declared for giant pandaprotection,11 major wildlife threats include fuelwood collection, mining, illegalhunting and poaching, livestock grazing, unsustainable wild plant harvesting,and mass tourism. Poverty and cultural heritage are also concerns, as Tibetansand 15 other ethnic minorities inhabit this region where all counties are belowthe official poverty line.12

    Human-wildlife conflict in China involves a smorgasbord of issues,including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Chinesewildlife restaurant trade,13 rehabilitating moon bears farmed for their bile,animals used in traditional Chinese medicine, and many endangered speciesteetering on the brink of extinction. However, this paper has a more limitedfocus. It examines the problems facing giant panda reserves in SouthwestChina, and some of the solutions. It examines Chinese government policy andlegislation, nature reserve management, the role of non-government organi-zations, conservation education, and ecotourism and poverty alleviation. Ananalysis of these issues can also provide an insight into the broader contextof the panda predicament, as well as environmental issues generally inChina.

    This article does not adopt Lawrence Glacys negative and cynicalperception that any effort at environmental protection in China will be ham-strung by a political and economic imperatives.14 But neither does it adoptthe optimistic scenarios of Geoffrey Murray, and Ian G. Cook.15 The bleakscenario is not tenable, as China neither lacks respect for nature, and nor canit ignore the limits to human exploitation of the environment. The choice isno longer as simple as economic investment or environmental degradation.There have already been a wide range of government and private initiatives

    8 The Great Western Development Policy (2000) is a Chinese government initiative to enable westernprovinces to catch up with economic development on the Eastern seaboard. http://www.gsinvest.com.cn/2003/

    9 CEPF, supra note 5, at 11.10 Personal communication. Zhang Liming, director of Wolong National Reserve administration (6 January

    2006).11 At August 2005 there are over 40 giant panda reserves in China. http://www.wwfchina.org12 WWF China, supra note 11, at 34.13 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is attributed to human consumption of the meat of civet

    cats on sale in Chinese Wildlife markets in 2003. Department of Human Health. Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars

    14 LAWRENCE GLACY, CHINAS CONSERVATION SCHEME: PROTECTING SPECIES OR GENERATING PROFITS? M.A.Thesis, Sonoma State University (2004), see also 5 CHINA ENVIRONMENTAL SERIES 6973 (2002).

    15 GEOFFREY MURRAY & IAN G. COOK, THE GREENING OF CHINA 136142 (2004).

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  • 158 ALLAN

    tackling Chinas environmental problems. Although poverty in remote Chinamakes people desperate, and edicts issued against environmental destructiontend to be ignored in such circumstances,16 it is nonetheless possible that morethan lip service will be paid to environmental issues.

    Murray and Cooks cheerful scenario is based on environmental edu-cation instilling respect for the environment, the rediscovery of historical tradi-tions, the acknowledgement of environmental as well as economic sustainabil-ity and a genuine desire to improve local, regional and national environmentsvia long-term efforts.17 Murray and Cook are concerned that whilst China istackling a wide range of serious environmental problems within the contextof her rapid industrialization, urbanization, transition to a market-orientedeconomy and growing consumerism, the Western media has documentedthe problems, but not the solutions being tried.18 They feel that the Chinesepeoples sincere aspirations to green China essentially motivate emerginggovernment policies at all levels, and so they have chosen to offer a rayof hope.19 According to the State Environmental Protection AdministrationsState of the Environment: 2003 report environmental preservation and pro-tection were very important, eco-conservation and eco-development would beequally emphasized; natural resource use would be user-pays, the laws of na-ture and economics would be respected and development would be scientific.20

    2. GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND LEGISLATION

    2.1 Historical Background

    China can boast the longest continuous human civilization on the planet, aboutfour thousand years. Exploiting natural resources, degrading ecosystems andendangering plant and animal species in the pursuit of economic developmentto satisfy the needs of an expanding human population is well-entrenched.Mencius and Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism made the unity between man andnature fundamental to Chinese though. Agricultural practices like terracingsteep hillsides and naturally fertilizing soils21 and Li Bings water controland conservancy project over 2,000 years ago in Sichuan Province preventedflooding and erosion. Conversely desertification and deforestation resultedfrom Han migrations southwards to the Yangtze and beyond. The prosperousMing and ensuing Qing Dynasty periods saw more forest cleared.22

    16 Id. at 137.17 Id. at 140.18 Id. at 5.19 Id. at 6.20 Id. at 145.21 GEOFFREY MURRAY & IAN G. COOK, THE GREENING OF CHINA 23 (2004).22 Id. at 2528.

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  • PEOPLE, PANDAS IN SOUTHWEST CHINA 159

    In 1949 China had been devastated by war, lacked basic infrastruc-ture and had to practically be rebuilt. Large-scale, technologically intensivecoal, steel, electricity, and chemical fertilizer and cement plants 19491957exacerbated deforestation and erosion and caused pollution.23 The 1950sMake China Green campaign of mass shelterbelts, industrial, roadsideand waterside trees from the 1950s1970s was a positive strategy, althoughit did not help natural forests.24 The Backyard Furnace Campaign of theGreat Leap Forward (195860) was disastrous for forests and the Four PestsCampaign disastrous for wildlife.25 Rapid industrialization had surpassedagriculture by the 1970s. One asked if such a rapid transition was necessaryand if the environmental price was too high to pay.26 Some observers arewondering now if the current economic juggernaut is necessary, and if theworld can still afford the price.

    Since the economic reforms of the late 1970s, China experienced dra-matic industrialization and rising energy use against a backdrop of populationgrowth and unprecedented urbanization. It is poised to become a major eco-nomic power in the 21st century.27 Murray and Cook also maintain that the en-vironmental effort has mainly been State-led. Work is overseen by the Environ-mental Committee, comprising officials from various departments of the StateCouncil (the top administrative body), especially the State Environmental Pro-tection Administration (SEPA) and partially supplemented by the legislativeand propaganda activities of the Environmental and Resource Protection Com-mittee of the National Peoples Congress (NPC), the countrys parliament.28

    2.2 Protected Area Legislation

    Legal proclamations about the environment began with a proposal to the ThirdSession of the National Peoples Congress in 1956 that: it is hoped the gov-ernment will designate specific areas in all provinces where the felling of treesis prohibited in the interest of conservation of natural plant life and scientificresearch. Later that year, the Ministry of Forestry authorized a Draft Planfor the Designation of Areas (National Forestry Reserves) Where the Fellingof Natural Trees is Prohibited and the Draft Plan for Methods of HuntingControl. From19661978, several nature reserves were seriously damaged bythe Cultural Revolution. However, from the late 1970s, construction of naturereserves slowly resumed. At the first national conference on environmentalprotection in 1975, Chinas Temporary Regulations for Nature Reserves

    23 Id. at 30.24 Id. at 32.25 Id. at 34.26 6 Id. at 31.27 Id. at 10.28 Id. at 12.

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  • 160 ALLAN

    (draft) were tabled and passed in 1978, when China adopted the Reformand Open Door policy, centering on economic development and achievingall-round social progress. In 1986, the Management Methods of Forest andWildlife Type Nature Reserves was issued.29 The 1994 Regulations on NatureReserves still linked economic development to environmental protection, andrelying on management and technology as an environmental fix.30 Protectedareas continued to be degraded.31

    In 2003 the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA)admitted at the World Conservation Unions 5th World Parks Congress inDurban that: a comprehensive and scientific legal framework for protectedareas does not yet exist.32 Whilst there have been over 30 Central governmentadministrative decrees, such as Regulations for the Implementation of theProtection of Terrestrial Wildlife and Provisional Regulations on the Adminis-tration of National Parks, and the Peoples congresses and local governmentshave enacted and promulgated more than 600 local laws on environmentalprotection,33 in 2006 Conservation International is still negotiating with thePeoples National Congress (PNC), the main Chinese legislature for the currentRegulations on Protected Areas to become law.34

    2.3 Environmental and Wildlife Protection Laws

    The Environmental Protection Law of the Peoples R...

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