In addition to untold human devastation, WWF has learned that the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that struck China’s Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008, severely impacted close to 20 panda reserves in the Minshan Landscape, part of WWF’s Yangtze priority place and home to the giant panda.
Office buildings and equipment in Sichuan Tangjiahe Nature Reserve and its logistics base in Qiaozhuang were seriously damaged. Public equipment and facilities in Gansu Boyuhe Nature Reserve were destroyed, and water supplies and roads were cut. The Qingmuchuan and Motianling nature reserves in Shaanxi Province were also seriously affected with office buildings damaged and roads and power supplies cut.
Life in the neighboring communities has become increasingly difficult. Farmers close to Baodinggou Nature Reserve in remote Mao County are living under plastic shelters as 80 percent of the houses there have collapsed. Damaged roads increase food scarcity and farmers are forced to search for food among the debris.
Of the 110 WWF-run projects in nature reserves and local communities in the Minshan Landscape, 86 have been affected as a result of the quake. The two Chinese WWF volunteers who were working on project sites near the epicenter have been evacuated after being trapped for seven days.
WWF’s program offices in Chengdu and Xi’an are working with partners and local organizations to collect information on the disaster-affected areas and provide support. WWF has provided satellite phones to nature reserves in Sichuan. Our Chengdu office has donated six tons of rice to the Wolong Nature Reserve, with tents and other necessities sent to reserves in Mao County, Pingwu, Qingchuan and Beichuan. The Xi’an office has sent tents, candles, generators and protective clothing to Qingmuchuan Nature Reserve.
The Chengdu office has also sent staff to Longchi School in Longxihongkou, one of the hardest-hit areas, to collect impact data to inform ongoing relief activities. A rescue team of seven experienced volunteers has returned from the Qianfoshan Nature Reserve with impact data for further rescue work. Financial support from WWF-China staff and other environmental organizations has been provided to the Chengdu office for purchasing equipment and materials.
WWF-China Country Representative Dermot O’Gorman has expressed his sincere condolences to the victims and their families, and his deep respect for the rescuers and support to local partners in the affected areas. “WWF will provide full support to our local partners’ relief efforts. Once the conditions have stabilized, we will cooperate with forestry administrations and nature reserves to carry out impact assessment about the local communities, the wild pandas and their habitats, the nature reserves and the ecosystems for further protection,” he said.
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