A giant panda eats bamboo at the Bifengxia giant panda research base in Baoxing County of Ya'an City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, July 12, 2006.Members of the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Wednesday to put China's giant panda habitat on the World Heritage List. (Xinhua Photo) [Watch Video]>>
VILNIUS, Lithuania, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Members of the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed on Wednesday to put China's giant panda habitat on the World Heritage List.
After deliberation, the WHC unanimously agreed to
place the panda habitat on the list, making it the 35th Chinese site to be
"We greatly thank the Chinese government for
submitting such a good application to the WHC to enrich the World Heritage List
and its tremendous efforts to protect such a precious site of bio-diversity,"
said the WHC.
"This is a great success for China, the World
Heritage Convention and for conservation in general," said David Sheppard, head
of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
(IUCN) delegation in Vilnius.
"It shows how the World Heritage Convention can
encourage governments to ensure the greatest level of protection for globally
important sites," he said.
Lu Zhi, professor from College of Life Science of
Beijing University said Chinese governments of all levels have made long-time
effort in protecting the rare giant pandas and their habitat, which covers an
area of 9,245 square km between Da Duhe and Minjiang in southwest Sichuang
The giant panda "serves as a flagship in terms of
animal species and loved by people around the world," and "the habitat is of
universal value in bio-diversity, which has been agreed universally," said Lu, a
expert for the protection of natural heritage.
"That's why the UNESCO's World Heritage Center is
keen to put it on the World Heritage List," she said.
The World Wildlife Fund's former China Director,
James Harkness, once said that the panda's territory was one of the most
critical regions for bio-diversity conservation in the world. Its diverse
habitats contain many rare and endangered animals and plant species.
The inclusion is of great significance in better
protecting rare animal species such as golden-haired monkeys, antelopes aside
from giant pandas, as well as plant species whose numbers are more than 10,000
kinds in the area.
"To protect an animal is not just put it living in
the zoo, but keep it live along in its own home," Lu said.
Wang Fengwu, member of the Chinese delegation to the
meeting, told reporters that China had spent 20 years attempting to get the
panda habitat included on the World Heritage List.
China's earnest will to protect world heritage
received appreciation from the WHC, which put the panda habitat at the top of
the agenda of 37 sites to be discussed for inclusion at the meeting.
The giant pandas and their habitat will be protected
in the future not only in accordance with Chinese law but also international
law, he added.
Wang believed that the successful inclusion of the
site on the list would prompt effective protection of rare and endangered
animals and plant species that depend on the habitat. This would help to ensure
that the giant pandas survive for generations to come.
As China is not one of the 21 members of the WHC, it
did not submit a report on the site, Wang told reporters, adding that the WHC
agreed to place the site on the list after deliberating over a report submitted
by international experts.
The report spoke highly of the habitat's
bio-diversity value, describing it as an area featuring rare and endangered
animals and plants.
Experts also said urgent improvements needed to be
made to protect the site, proposing that the construction of water plants, roads
and other development inside the habitat be controlled.
Aside from China's giant panda habitat, the committee
also put Colombia's Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary and Finland's Kvarken
Archipelago on the list.
The Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary forms part of
the critical marine biological corridor with the Galapagos, Cocos and Coiba
Islands Wolrd Heritage sites.
Its extensive marine area of 857,150 hectares is the
largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and considered of huge
value to maintain and replenish the number of threatened and endangered marine
The coastline of Finland's Kvarken Archipelago was
recognized by the WHC for its global value in demonstrating the Earth's
It is an extension of the High Coast of Sweden World
Heritage site because of the uplift of the earth's crust following the retreat
of the last ice age glaciers in this area some 10,000 years ago.
Furthermore, the WHC decided not to put the Tropical
Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia, on the List of World Heritage in
Danger despite escalating threats to the site.
The number of the List of World Nature Heritage in
Danger was reduced from 15 to 13 following the removal of the Tunisia's Ichkeul
National Park and the Senegal's Djoudj Bird Sanctuary from the list.
But the WHC said it will consider to put the site
into the danger list in 2007 if no progress has been made.
The July 8-16 session of the WHC has been examining
37 new sites from 30 states bidding to be included into the World Heritage List.
The ruins of the Shang Dynasty capital in Anyang city of Henan province is under discussion for inclusion into the cultural heritage list. Enditem