Recent research from Michigan State University has shown that reserves set up in China to protect Pandas have had far reaching consequences for the conservation of forests and protection of habitats for other important animals and plants.

The study in Ecosphere presented data which showed the forests inside reserves, and in areas outside the reserves’ borders, are providing critical canopy materials – the leaves and branches – that soak up carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

“Reserves are created thinking about the pandas – but we wanted to see if they provide more benefits than just the pandas. A lot of work is focused in regards to the pandas, but we wanted to ask about other animal and plant species. How are these nature reserves doing for biodiversity and for carbon sequestration?” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, MSU’s Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

“Sometimes unintended consequences can be happy ones – and give us ways to do even better as we work toward sustainability. Pandas are leading us to even greater ways to care for nature and health of humans and the planet.”

The researchers also discovered that forests in lower elevations – areas not generally targeted for panda habitat – are not being protected in the same way, and so have called for forests outside reserve areas to be treated with the same care and consideration as those within.

Andres Vina, a researcher who worked on the project said: “We are seeing efforts that are moving in the right direction and showing positive results for nature and for humans. Now it’s time to continue those efforts and fine tune them to continue to get even more benefits.”

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply