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Regional Law Enacted to Protect Giant Panda Habitat in NW China

Lawmakers in northwest China's Shaanxi Province enacted a law yesterday that is intended to improve protection of the Qinling Mountains, a habitat of endangered giant pandas.

The law, which will take effect on March 1, is aimed at preserving biodiversity, preventing soil erosion (which averages 84 million tons a year) and promoting harmony between man and nature in the mountain range, which is a divide between China's north and south.

It requires all future development projects in the Qinling Mountains to be assessed for their possible impact on the ecology and bans real estate projects and polluting industries in nature reserves, where the ecology is more vulnerable.

The law also bans mining and resource exploration in nature reserves and forest parks.

Local governments must ensure immediate demolition of existing projects that are potentially harmful to the ecology, it says.

The Qinling range, which largely spans Shaanxi Province, covers more than 50,000 square kilometers.

The range is home to approximately 300 Qinling pandas, a sub-species of giant pandas on the verge of extinction, and many other rare animals under state protection, such as golden monkeys, the red ibis and antelopes.

(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2007)

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