Megacity develops ecology with economy, dedicating land to national parks and open spaces, Zhuan Ti reports
The film “Born in China” hit the screen in North America on April 21, making the audiences fell in love with the rare animals in China. Chengdu, home to giant pandas, has been upgrading its ecological environment in a bid to protect rare animals and plants and offer better living conditions to its residents.
Local authorities are building a giant panda national park on Longmen Mountain in the city’s west that will cover 399,300 acres, providing habitat to 73 wild giant pandas.
It is an important part of the national giant panda park that has been approved by the central government to be built mainly in Sichuan province, covering more than 6.67 million acres.
Hou Rong, director of the research center at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and a National People’s Congress deputy, said the national park aims to protect the natural ecosystem and biodiversity of the pandas’ habitat.
The habitat is now split into 33 parts in China that are not all interconnected, she said, and in some small habitats with few groups of pandas, the genetic quality tends to fall, which can result in the animals dying out in those areas.
“Building the national park will help solve the problem,” she said, adding that there are also plans to link the major habitats with green passages through ecological restoration.
Hou suggests setting up a research center for the giant panda national park in Chengdu, as the city has rich experience in giant panda protection, research and international collaboration.
“The city also attaches vital importance to the construction of the national giant panda park and the protection and research of giant pandas,” she said.
Chengdu established Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in 1987, first of its kind in the world. Since then, the city has been taking the lead worldwide in the protection of giant pandas.
The city has also set up the Panda Valley in Dujiangyan, a field center that trains pandas to live in the wild.
Covering an area of 328.6 acres, the field center boasts brooks and woods, as well as many kinds of bamboos that can be food for pandas.
As of the end of 2016, the base was home to 176 pandas, the largest population of captive pandas in the world.
In the city’s east, construction began on March 28 of an urban forest park on Longquan Mountain.
It will cover 263,900 acres, almost twice the size of Chengdu’s central urban area.
Li Jian, deputy director of the Chengdu Forestry and Garden Bureau, said the main aim in building the park is to provide the city with a strong ecological barrier.
Construction of the park’s first phase is expected to be completed by 2020, increasing the forest coverage on Longquan Mountain from 61 percent to 68 percent, he said.
Forest coverage of the park will reach 80 percent by 2035, according to the city’s plan for the forest park.
“The park will also introduce some recreational facilities and projects, making it a world-class urban ecotourism destination,” Li said.
As for its urban area, Chengdu has been striving to push forward the construction of an Ecological Belt Around the City project in recent years, which is due to be completed by 2020. The plan calls for land within 0.3 mile on both sides of the ring expressway to be used for ecological construction.
The ecological belt stretches 52.7 miles and covers 32,864 acres, about one fourth of Chengdu’s central urban area.
The ecological belt will connect six lakes and eight wetlands, whose total water area will be almost five times that of West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
A conservation regulation has been adopted for the Ecological Belt Around the City project, making the city the first in the country to introduce a law for ecological planning.
By 2020 urban green coverage in Chengdu is expected to reach 46 percent and park land per capita to reach about 160 square feet.
Chengdu is also working with countries including the United States, Switzerland and Germany to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and achieve sustainable development.
As part of the Sino-Swiss Low Carbon Cities Project, the project in Chengdu was launched in April last year following the signing of the founding memorandum of understanding witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Amman.