Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zoning laws can help pandas and people live in peace

Date:
October 28, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
As the world's biodiversity hotspots are increasingly stressed by their human neighbors, zoning is becoming a common strategy to balance environmental protection and human needs. But a recent study shows zoning ordinances can be useful to balance human activities and wildlife habitat as long as a few limitations are remembered: Lines on a map don't show up in a forest, laws mean little without enforcement and animals can't read zoning ordinances.

Zoning laws can help people and pandas live in peace.
Credit: MSU

As the world's biodiversity hotspots are increasingly stressed by their human neighbors, zoning is becoming a common strategy to balance environmental protection and human needs. But a recent study conducted by Michigan State University researchers shows zoning for conservation demands reality checks.

"Zoning ordinances are rarely evaluated for their ability to make positive changes using empirical data on both human and biodiversity characteristics," said Jianguo (Jack) Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at MSU. "It's critical to examine both human and natural systems to see if ordinances are working and understand what changes might be needed."

The study, published in the current edition of Biological Conservation, shows that zoning is helping protect endangered giant pandas in China's Wolong Nature Reserve. The analysis from MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability also reveals critical weaknesses.

According to the paper, zoning ordinances can be useful to balance human activities and wildlife habitat as long as a few limitations are remembered: Lines on a map don't show up in a forest, laws mean little without enforcement and animals can't read zoning ordinances.

"Zoning everywhere, in China and in the United States, is about drawing lines on a piece of paper. But the big challenge is always how to bring those lines to life," said Vanessa Hull, doctoral candidate in CSIS and the paper's lead author. "The people who live in that landscape can't see it and there are no fences. We're showing that zoning is an effective tool for controlling some human impacts but not others."

Increasingly, governments are turning to zoning ordinances to protect habitat while still allowing people access to a livelihood. People in Wolong historically have farmed, chopped down trees for fuel and construction, kept livestock and accommodated tourists who stream in to see pandas in breeding centers.

Pandas are picky about their habitat -- needing gentle slopes, moderate elevation and plenty of bamboo to munch. While other species that contribute to Wolong's rich biodiversity benefit from conservation efforts, the charismatic pandas drive much of the policy there.

Wolong has been zoned into three areas: First, the core area strictly limits human activity to minimize human impact on pandas. Second, the experimental area thrives with homes, businesses and roads. In between is a buffer zone of controlled human access intended to acknowledge that it's hard to declare a forest pristine if a hotel is right next door.

Hull said that zoning in Wolong is protecting some but not all prime panda real estate. The study also is helping show where improvements are needed. Including:

  • Much of the buffer zone is important for pandas.
  • The rules of the buffer zone are ambiguous. Without clear rules, land use manager can't rely on clear guidelines when fielding requests for variances.
  • Even small instances of disregard for zoning ordinances -- especially in the case of roaming livestock -- can have significant effects on panda habitat.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, MSU's Distinguished Fellowship Program, the William and Evelyn Taylor International Engagement Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Liu's work also is supported by MSU AgBioResearch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vanessa Hull, Weihua Xu, Wei Liu, Shiqiang Zhou, Andrés Viña, Jindong Zhang, Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Jinyan Huang, Marc Linderman, Xiaodong Chen, Yan Huang, Zhiyun Ouyang, Hemin Zhang, Jianguo Liu. Evaluating the efficacy of zoning designations for protected area management. Biological Conservation, 2011 DOI: %uFEFF%uFEFF%uFEFF10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.007

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Zoning laws can help pandas and people live in peace." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103723.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, October 28). Zoning laws can help pandas and people live in peace. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103723.htm
Michigan State University. "Zoning laws can help pandas and people live in peace." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111028103723.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins