China’s a complex nation.
That’s a ridiculously vague way to start this post, yes, but it’s also just about as good as it’s going to get. If you want hard-hitting geopolitical analysis, this is probably not the place for that.
However, if you want to learn about the giant-ass national park China is planning to build, yes, by all means, let’s talk about that.
Details via IFLScience:
China is planning to build a new national park to save two endangered species – the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard – as it develops its US-style national park scheme.
This new park will be located in northeast China in the Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, on the border of Russia and North Korea. It will cover 14,600 square kilometers (5,600 square miles), making it 60 percent bigger than Yellowstone in the US. According to Xinhua, a “comprehensive plan and pilot for the national park is expected to be carried out before 2020.”
For reference, Yellowstone is 3,471 square miles, while the state of Connecticut is 5,543. This is going to be a very, very big park.
And good thing, too, because both those cat species are incredibly threatened:
In 1998, only six to nine wild Siberian tigers were estimated to be living in this area, rising to 27 by 2015 after conservation efforts that included a logging ban. However, the current reserve these tigers inhabit is not enough to let the species thrive. Approximately 400 more are thought to live in Russia.
Meanwhile, the global population of Amur leopards was less than 30 in 2007, mostly due to hunting and other human activities. This had almost doubled by 2015 thanks to work by conservation groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), but more still needs to be done.
China has already announced plans for an even bigger park aimed at preserving the habitat of China’s giant panda. That one will come in at around 10,500 square miles, and will actually require the relocation of about 170,000 people. These are unfathomably big chunks of the environment that will now, in theory, be protected from human hands, though nothing is ever a guarantee.
Again, there are any number of stronger critiques to be made by more informed voices, but the main takeaway here is this: pandas, tigers, and leopards are all awesome, and whatever protection they get is a positive.