Pandas Now Threatened by China's Decision to Sell Collective Forests

Researchers warn these animals stand to lose large portions of their natural habitat

According to a letter authored by several researchers and published in the journal Science, pandas are now facing major threats following China's decision to allow outside interests to purchase bits and pieces of collective forests.

The specialists who signed this letter are quite convinced that the country's land tenure reform will eventually translate into logging being carried out smack in the center of these animals' natural habitats.

Needless to say, this might ultimately lead to the species' coming face to face with extinction.

Mongabay reports that, according to several estimates, as much as 15% of the pandas' remaining natural habitats might soon be owned by outside interests, whose working agenda more often than not fails to take into account the country's need to protect this species.

Interestingly enough, the researchers who put together this letter also maintain that, all things considered, this decision-making to open up collective forests for purchase pretty much goes against the Chinese government's promises to do its best to safeguard the country's panda population.

Li Zhang, a wildlife researcher currently working with Conservation International China, made a case of how, “The reform contradicts the great steps the Chinese government has taken to conserve the giant panda in recent decades.”

Backing up these statements, the President of Conservation International, biologist Russell Mittermeier, argued as follows:

“This change puts these vital habitats potentially under threat from commercial logging, increased collection of firewood and non-timber forest products by outside enterprises, and other commercial development activities.”

“Sadly, it would threaten to deforest, degrade or disturb up to 15% of the remaining giant panda habitat,” Russell Mittermeier went on to add.

Just for the record, giant pandas are currently labeled as a critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List, and their being this close to extinction is a direct result of people's habit of hunting them and destroying their natural habitats.

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