Local governments have been asked to investigate illegal logging of forests in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries after an international environmental protection organization released a report pointing to the activity, the State Forestry Administration said.
Greenpeace East Asia released an illegal logging report on Oct 21. Its two-year-long investigation discovered that nearly 1,300 hectares of natural forest in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, have been illegally removed and replaced with profitable forest plantations, by taking advantage of loopholes in the Technical Regulation on Reconstruction of Low-Function Forest.
And the illegal logging has caused a direct threat to endangered plant and animal species, especially the wild giant panda, said Greenpeace.
The report was submitted to central and local governments, calling on the State Forestry Administration to strengthen the protection of the panda habitat and implement effective ecological rehabilitation and strict supervision to prevent further damage.
The administration said in a written reply that it agrees with the suggestions and would consider putting them into practice. In addition, it welcomed outside environmental protection organizations to help supervise its natural forest protection work and give more suggestions.
According to the Fourth National Survey on Giant Pandas conducted by the administration, habitat fragmentation still remains the major factor threatening the survival of the giant pandas.
“The deforestation area is part of an important giant panda migratory corridor. It further reduces and fragments the already limited natural habitat of the species, thus increases the risk that their small and dispersed populations will become increasingly cutoff, limiting their chances to make contact with each other and reproduce,” said Wang Hao, senior scientist with Center for Nature and Society at Peking University.
China began to introduce the Technical Regulation on Reconstruction of Low-Function Forest in 2007. Sichuan joined the trend of forest regeneration in 2009, planning to take 10 to 15 years to restore 2 million hectares of forest, among which 600,000 hectares would be replaced.
Zhou Lijiang, deputy chief engineer at the Sichuan province Forestry Investigation and Planning Institute, who participated in drafting the technical regulation, said the regulation was drafted to give guidance for local forestry bureaus to improve their forests, secondary forests and plantations.