Grain and Bear It
New policies emerging in China could bode well for that poster child of protection efforts, the panda. In an article published last week in the journal Science, scientists from the World Wildlife Fund and Beijing University praised China’s National Forest Conservation Program and its “Grain-to-Green” policy as likely to preserve habitat crucial to panda survival. The conservation program, which is designed to protect against flooding, will increase forest cover in river basins over the course of 11 years, thereby protecting all of the remaining forests in the panda’s range. The Grain-to-Green policy will restore hillside agriculture land to forest or grassland over the next five to eight years. About 1,100 wild pandas remain in China, but despite unprecedented protection efforts, most roam in populations too small to be viable in the long term and are cut off from one another by fragmented habitat and a lack of ecological corridors.