China Announces National Park System

China recently announced not a singular first national park, but a handful of national preservation areas meant to protect specific animal species, including pandas.

The total square mileage of protected land is about 88,800 and the regions include areas in northern Tibet all the way to the holiday island Hainan to the south.

It has been a long road to establishing national parks in China, the country has been working on an institutional system to protect its natural ecosystems since the first nature reserve established in 1956. Today there are more than 10,000 such reserves intended to protect biodiversity.

One problem has been that managing the reserves has been troublesome as different local authorities had responsibilities to protect the same sites, yet their jobs and boundaries were unclear. The establishment of a national park system seeks to remedy this.

Surely the adventurous are asking by now, will visitors be able to access these national parks?

For one, the aptly named Giant Panda National Park will be available to visitors and is already an area where many tourists come each year to see the pandas.

According to the official press releases 75% of the wild population of pandas live in the newly defined region of the national park which includes areas of three provinces, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu and includes four mountains, the Minshan, Qionglai, Daxiangling and Qinling. This area is the panda’s natural habitat.

The provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang will share the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, which is intended to protect the habitat of its namesake’s animals.

The afore mentioned Hainan Island is the home of China’s most well-preserved tropical rainforest and the only place in the world the black-crested gibbon lives. Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park will protect the environment and the rare gibbons who live there.