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Panda habitat threatened by phosphate mining in south-west China

Luna Lin

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Giant pandas face habitat encroachment as a provincial government approves phosphate mining in south-west China

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(Image copyright: eversummer)

 

Giant pandas in a nature reserve in south-west China have been forced into “smaller and more fragmented” areas after an upsurge in phosphate mining.

Greenpeace and Chengdu-based NGO Hengduan Mountain Research Society investigated the hazards of phosphate mining activities in Longmen Mountain, where giant panda habitat the Nine Peaks Mountain Nature Reserve is located.
 
A 2006 report from the State Forestry Administration showed that the Nine Peaks Mountain Nature Reserve was home to 11 wild giant pandas. However, Greenpeace campaigner Sean Lang said phosphate mining in the vicinity had destroyed much of the vegetation located in the hinterland of the panda habitat and "forced this local giant panda population into an ever smaller and fragmented area”.
 
The central part of Longmen Mountain, where the giant panda lives, is China’s fifth largest area for phosphate production and accounts for more than 10% of the nation’s total annual production. 
 
However, despite its huge mineral reserve, the region is seen by many as unsuitable for mining due to its vulnerability to natural disasters, as shown by the major earthquake in Sichuan province this weekend. Yang Yong, Hengduan Mountain Research Society's senior geological engineer, said further exploitation by mining groups would increase the threat of geological disasters in this disaster-prone area. 
 
"Any phosphate mining in Longmen Mountain must first take into account the risk of secondary disasters. And this area has already suffered major mudslides, landslides and floods in both 2009 and 2010," Yang said.
 
The mining industry has not been deterred.
 
In 2010, mining giant Sichuan Hongda Group proposed that the local government change the boundary of the Nine Peaks Mountain Reserve to make way for future mineral extraction. 
 
Initially, the popularity of the panda prevented any boundary changes. However, between 2010 and 2012 phosphate prices rose from less than 100 yuan to more than 500 yuan per tonne. And by August 2012, Sichuan’s provincial government had approved the boundary adjustment application, with the 325-hectare Suopengzi area, the hinterland of giant panda’s habitat, transferred outside the reserve.

Hongda Group, unsurprisingly, gained exploration rights for the new area. But Greenpeace suggests the mining group had began exploration activities in the area in 2008, long before its licence to do so had been validated. 
 
“We don’t know if there’s exchange of interests involved in the decision making, but local governments tend to support projects that are good for short-term economic growth and GDP growth. Therefore, they are willing to support mining projects which could encroach on the giant panda habitat at the cost of environmental protection,” said Sean Lang. 

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EES

有没有明确证据表明探矿活动与当地熊猫数量的之间关系,为什么政府只收养这些熊猫,把它们放入保护区?

EES

Is there any specific evidence that shows the direct relationship between the exploration and the population of local pandas, why the government just adopt these few pandas and keep into reservation area?


明显的一例政府不作为。

根据文章中的报告信息,大熊猫自然保护区内有一定数量的野生大熊猫在此地生活,不是政府“收养”的熊猫。大熊猫为资源开采让路、保护区受到人类活动的侵蚀是不争的事实,很显然四川省政府和相关部门没有尽到保护的义务,经济利益再次压倒了社会利益。但是民间和部分舆论能够在这件事上表态,是我看到的一个积极的动作,作为社会公民,我们能够做的还有很多,特别是提升自己的自然保护意识和教育身边人来保护自然。

It is a typical example of dereliction of duty of government

According to the article, there are groups of wild giant pandas living in the Nine Peaks Mountain Nature Reserve , rather than 'adopted' by the government. It is a fact that giant pandas are threatened and the areas are fragmented due to human activities and it is also obvious the Sichuan Government and relevant departments don't take seriously their obligations to protect them. The economic benefits exceed the social benefits once again. In contrast, it is positive that some NGOs and members of the public can use their voices to call for protection. As a member of society, we can do more than that. We can enhance our own sense of environmental protection and encourage more and more people to participate in environmental protection.


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