China's Sichuan province secures $2b in funding for planned panda national park

Giant pandas born in 2017 on display at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
Giant pandas born in 2017 on display at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters, Xinhua) - China's Sichuan province government has secured 10 billion yuan (S$2.08 billion) in funding over the next five years for a planned Giant Panda National Park, China Daily reported on Thursday (March 8).

The park will protect wild pandas across Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, while the funding will help alleviate poverty for residents living within the park and improve infrastructure, the China Daily reported a park planning official as saying.

The funding was secured via an agreement signed on Tuesday by the Bank of China and the Sichuan provincial Department of Forestry, the paper said.

The fund, which will be used in a variety of poverty alleviation projects, will be offered between 2018 and 2023, according to the agreement signed in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province on Tuesday.

The projects include collaborations between Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the governments of 19 counties to be included in the park.

Last year, China announced a plan to set up the giant panda national park spanning three provinces - Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu - to help the endangered animals move around and strengthen their gene pool, which will allow ease of movement for pandas currently living in isolated areas on six mountains in the provinces.

The park will cover 27,134 sq km, three times the area of America's Yellowstone National Park. It is scheduled to open in 2020.

Last month, China's environment ministry said it had approved plans by 15 provinces and regions to draw up "red lines" to keep large areas of its territory, including wetlands, forests, national parks and protected natures zones, off-limits to economic development.