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Climate change to force pandas north in Sichuan
Updated: 2008-11-02 10:15

Climate change could force pandas to shift their homes, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) study revealed - and the results on Sichuan's tourism industry could be far-reaching.

In the study reported to an international symposium on climate change and pandas' habitat in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province on Friday, the WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, forecast higher temperatures and more rain in the northwest part of the wild giant pandas' habitat, which would encourage them to move from their current home in the southeast to the northwest.

Cheng Li, a researcher at Sichuan University, told the symposium, which finishes this weekend, that his calculation suggests that giant pandas contribute 33.2 percent of the tourism revenue for Sichuan and created about 29 percent jobs for the tourism industry.

Deterioration of pandas' habitat would obviously damage the local tourism, Cheng said.

The latest giant panda survey by the WWF in 2004 found nearly 1,600 pandas in the wild. They are living in a habitat of 23,049 square kilometers, the WWF said.

UK academics are closely working with the WWF to study whether the panda habitat would be affected by global climate change.

Jon Lovett, professor at the University of York in the United Kingdom, said at the symposium, different kinds of bamboos, whose shoots are staple food of pandas, were affected by climate change differently. Prof. Lovett said that ecological changes will predominantly influence pandas to decide where to live.