Edited by David Pearce, Corin Pearce and Charles Palmer
Chapter 8: Optimal ecotourism: the economic value of the giant panda in China
Andreas Kontoleon, Timothy Swanson, Qiwen Wang, Qiao Xuejun and Catherine Yang 1 INTRODUCTION China is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world.1 This implies rapid rates of change in both the natural environment and the social structures throughout this country. This places at risk both the peoples and the places at the fringes of society. The people furthest removed from the centres of economic activity are often the poorest, and the least able to participate in the gains being achieved by others in the country. At the same time, the previously inaccessible regions of the country are being brought under increased pressure, on account of the increased levels of economic activity and on account of the needs of the local populations. In the absence of careful management, it can be anticipated that the combined result will be increased environmental degradation and reduced living standards on the fringes of society (Gadgil,1995). As in many other developing countries, China has responded to the environmental pressures from increased levels of development by establishing nature reserves and other types of protected areas. Nature reserves currently cover about 7 per cent of China’s national territory and were estimated to surpass 10 per cent in the year 2000 (NEPA, 1996).2 The reserves designated for the conservation of the giant panda have attracted the most attention. The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is one of the world’s most easily recognized species. It has served not only as the representative of most environmental agencies...
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