|Categories||Biodiversity, Birds, Habitats, Mammals|
|Date||9 Jul 2020|
The Giant Panda National Park (‘GPNP’ hereafter) is among the most prominent trial sites of China’s National Park system. Due to open to the public in 2020, it will bring together 77 existing protected areas (‘PAs’ hereafter), connect the 18 fragmented giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) populations, and streamline conservation efforts in the region. Enhanced habitat connectivity and conservation of the GPNP are expected to benefit the rich and unique biodiversity sharing the same ecosystems with the giant panda, including >200 endangered, endemic, or nationally protected animal and plant species. Ecological restoration is critical to the success of GPNP for two reasons. First, for areas inside the GPNP, forest loss and degradation have affected many existing, and particularly the 21.33% of park area historically outside PAs. This has directly contributed to the habitat and population fragmentation of the giant panda and other species inside the GPNP.
Second, areas outside GPNP boundaries are also key to the conservation effectiveness of GPNP, and they have even greater restoration needs. In addition to exerting matrix effects, areas outside GPNP seasonally support a considerable proportion of the fauna living inside GPNP, notably many altitudinally migratory bird species wintering in the lower elevations (http://birdreport.cn/bird/). Yet native forests in the lower elevation areas surrounding the GPNP have suffered heavy historical loss, while recent largescale reforestation in the region has done little to restore them. In all, GPNP’s long-term success in conserving the giant panda and its wider ecosystem relies on effective ecological restoration in and around the park.
This project Focusing on the northern portion of the GPNP around the iconic Wanglang National Nature Reserve (‘WNNR’ hereafter) in Sichuan Province. I will combine remote sensing and bird surveys to address the two following questions:
1. What is the spatial and elevational distribution of major land-cover types in and around WNNR?
2. What is the community composition of birds, as an indicator taxon, associated with major land-cover types at different elevations in and around WNNR?
Answers to these questions will shed light on where ecological restoration should be prioritized to deliver biodiversity benefits in and around the WNNR portion of GPNP. Aside from publishing my findings in reputable peer reviewed journals, I will also actively communicate my findings to the WNNR and local government to facilitate their uptake in policy implementation.
For further information contact: