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Establish an environmentally sustainable Giant Panda National Park in the Qinling Mountains

Zhao, Yan, Chen, Yi-ping, Ellison, Aaron M., Liu, Wan-gang, Chen, Dong
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.668 pp. 979-987
Ailuropoda melanoleuca, agricultural land, altitude, anthropogenic activities, arsenic, bamboos, cadmium, chromium, cities, copper, economic development, emissions, endangered species, feces, fuel combustion, habitat fragmentation, habitats, heavy metals, issues and policy, latitude, lead, manganese, mercury, mining, mountains, national parks, nickel, planning, pollution, roads, soil, traffic, wind direction, zinc, China
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is one of the most endangered animals in the world and is recognized worldwide as a symbol for conservation. The Qinling subspecies of giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) is highly endangered; fewer than 350 individuals still inhabit the Qinling Mountains. Last year, China announced the establishment of the first Giant Panda National Park (GPNP) with a goal of restoring and connecting fragmented habitats; the proposal ignored the environmental pollution caused by economic development in panda habitats. The spatial distribution of heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Hg, Cu, Zn, Mn, Cr, Ni and As) was analyzed in giant panda feces, soil, bamboo, and water in four of GPNP's functional areas at different altitudes and latitudes. Heavy metal pollution decreased with anthropogenic influences, from outside the park through the buffer and into the core area. Cu, Mn, Ni and Zn accumulated from natural sources; As, Hg and Cr were associated with fuel combustion; and Pb and Cd were associated with traffic and agriculture sources. The presence of heavy metals at high altitudes and latitudes in the proposed GPNP is due to emissions from Xi'an and other upwind industrial cities. We conclude that reducing emissions and heavy metal input should be included in the design of the GPNP. Policy interventions should consider functional zones planning, wind direction, reducing mining, and the abandonment of existing roads and farmland within the GPNP to reduce other direct human impacts on the Qinling panda.