I am a member of the San Diego Zoological Society, and love their Panda Exhibit, which was part of a cooperative effort with the Republic of China. I was pleased to learn that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Friday said it is helping China set up botanical gardens, wild-life parks and a giant panda center in the northwestern Qinling Mountains to protect the region’s biological diversity.
The Manila-based development lender said in a press release that it will provide a 40 million-U.S.-dollar loan to fund the Shaanxi Qinling Biodiversity Conservation and Demonstration Project which aims to use ecotourism to generate a sustainable source of funds to protect and restore the environment.
About 300 giant pandas, along with other threatened species, can be found in the mountains, the ADB said, but destructive land use practices driven by poverty threaten the habitats of many rare plants and animals and previous conservation efforts were hampered by a lack of financial sustainability.
The project will also support the restoration of forest land, provide forest-based livelihood opportunities, develop endangered species management programs, repair and modernize an animal rescue shelter and develop a comprehensive biodiversity data collection system, the ADB said, adding that the project can also provide conservation-linked jobs and business opportunities.
ADB’s loan has a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, with interest determined in accordance with ADB’S LIBOR-based lending facility. The Shaanxi provincial government is the executing agency for the project which is due for completion by April 2015.
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