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The Fourth National Giant Panda Survey is organised by the State Forestry Administration of China and is conducted every ten years. The survey measures the size of the panda population, its distribution and the status of its habitat. The report found that 1,246 wild giant pandas live within nature reserves which accounts for 53.8% of the total wild population.

Wild giant pandas are found only in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. According to the report the geographic range of pandas in China also increased. The total area inhabited by wild giant pandas now equals 2,577,000 hectares, an expansion of 11.8% since 2003.

John Barker, Head of India and China regions, at WWF-UK said:

Today's announcement by the Government of China that wild giant panda numbers have increased by over 16% is a demonstration of the successful conservation actions taken by the government and the people of China. Much of this success is due to the implementation of policy changes including banning commercial logging in panda habitats and more effective management of forest protected areas. Securing the future of the giant panda, however, remains unfinished business with issues such as large scale infrastructure development including roads and railways and mass tourism needing to be advanced with environmentally and ecologically compatible planning."

Xiaohai Liu, Executive Director of Programmes at WWF-China, said:

"These results are a testament to the conservation achievements of the Chinese government. A lot of good work is being done for wild giant panda conservation and the government has done well to integrate these efforts and partner with conservation organizations, including WWF. The increase of both the wild giant panda population size and habitat area over last ten years is a significant conservation achievement which WWF is pleased to see. The survey results demonstrate the effectiveness of nature reserves in boosting wild giant panda numbers."

Much of the success in increasing the panda population comes as a result of conservation policies implemented by the Chinese government, including the National Forest Protection Project and Grain for Green.

Although the survey recorded an increase in population and habitat area, wild giant panda conservation still faces severe challenges. China has 67 panda nature reserves - an increase of 27 since the last report. However over 46% of panda habitats and approximately 33% of the population live outside of protected nature reserves. Habitat fragmentation - the separation of wildlife population by physical barriers - is increasingly noticeable with about 12% of the population facing higher risks to their survival. Traditional threats to pandas such as poaching appear to be declining but large-scale disturbances including mining, hydro-power, tourism and infrastructure construction are becoming more severe and were referenced in the government panda survey for the first time.

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Notes to editors

UK spokespeople are available for interview.

Please contact:

Justin Avern, Media Relations Manager, WWF-UK
M: 07879 602 738 E: javern@wwf.org.uk

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Fourth National Giant Panda survey - the facts:

  • The survey is the fourth in a series of decadal surveys led by the State Forestry Administration of China. The survey is a national census of the giant panda population and distribution and the status of panda habitat
  • The survey aims to:
  • clarify the number, distribution and status of habitat of the wild giant panda since the last survey
  • gather information on other rare species that share the pandas habitat to analyse their distribution and other dynamics
  • help better understand the condition of panda habitats and assess what disturbances threaten these areas
  • map the wild giant panda's genetic profile through DNA collection and analysis
  • consider the socioeconomic factors at play in habitat areas
  • assess habitat protection and management capability, and review different aspects of captive and breeding populations to improve captive population management. 
  • The survey took roughly 33 months to complete and formally began in October 2010. WWF provided financial and technical support such as equipment and training to the survey teams, WWF also supported and played an active role in the development of the survey technical work-plans and guidelines.

Recent conservation polices implemented by the Chinese government include the National Forest Protection Project and Grain for Green.

WWF and pandas
WWF's 2015-2025 giant panda conservation strategy sets the course for panda protection efforts over the next decade and will focus on improving panda habitat in a manner that balances conservation with local sustainable development.

WWF supports the Chinese government's work by establishing panda nature reserves and a conservation network that integrates those reserves with forests farms and corridors of bamboo. This allows pandas to find more food and meet new breeding mates. WWF ensures the legal protection of a large percentage of panda habitat and an improvement in how conservation efforts are carried out..

About the WWF logo
WWF selected the giant panda as its logo upon the organization's founding in 1961. WWF was aware of the need for a strong, recognizable conservation symbol that would overcome all language barriers. The black and white panda has since come to stand as a symbol for the conservation movement as a whole.

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk.

About WWF China
WWF was the first international NGO to be invited by the Chinese government to work in China. WWF began its work in the country with a panda conservation research project at the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province. This project brought worldwide attention to the little known life of pandas in the wild. WWF also worked with the State Forestry Administration (SFA) to conduct national surveys on the status of panda populations and their habitat resulting in a report that provided data to develop a panda conservation plan and establishment of nature reserves to protect pandas. Today, WWF continues to assist the SFA in carrying out its giant panda protection projects. WWF's work areas in China covers Amur-Heil"