The Bank of China is to provide RMB10bn ($1.5bn) over five years for the construction of a Giant Panda National Park in Sichuan Province, China.
The bank has agreed to secure the funding by 2023. An agreement was signed this week between the Sichuan provincial branch of the Bank of China and the Department of Forestry.
The Giant Panda National Park is planned to provide the endangered animals with an unbroken range where they can meet and mate with other pandas. The project will also aim to alleviate poverty among the local residents through a range of initiatives including infrastructure improvements and education.
The initiatives will include collaborations between Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the governments of 19 counties to be included in the park.
At 27,134sqkm, the park will be three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the US. The area will cover six mountains across Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
More than 80% of pandas are found in Sichuan with the rest spread between the other two provinces. About 1,864 live in the wild, where they are threatened by habitat loss, and another 300 live in captivity.
Zhang Weichao, a Sichuan official involved in the park planning, told the China Daily the agreement would help alleviate poverty among the 170,000 people living within the project’s proposed territory.
Planning for the Giant Panda National Park began in January last year.