Monday, November 5, 2012

UK Experts Debate the Importance of Saving Pandas

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. habitat (n.) – the place where an animal or plant lives
Example: The jungle is a habitat for wild cats.

2. biodiversity (n.) – the different plants and animals found in an environment
Example: The biodiversity of Brazil’s forests should be protected.

3. greenwash (n.) – a way of saying something is good for the environment when it really does not do much to protect or help the environment
Example:  They said the product is “made from natural and environment-friendly ingredients,” but it may just be greenwash.

4. unparalleled (adj.) – not equaled by another
Example: He wants to capture the unparalleled beauty of nature in his painting.

5. detractor (n.) –a person who opposes or argues against someone or something
Example: The government’s detractors argued against the expensive lifestyles of public officials.

Read the text below.

The UK’s Society of Biology recently held a forum in London on the topic “Do we need pandas? Choosing which species to save.” At the forum, speakers talked about whether saving pandas and their habitats is good for the environment.

The topic comes as some detractors say that saving pandas is a kind of Chinese greenwash. They believe people’s money and focus should be directed to more important environmental issues.

Biologist Simon Watt, who was part of the panel discussion, said conservation projects should be studied carefully. According to him, panda habitats deserve to be protected, but other animal homes should be prioritized.

He recommended focusing on lesser-known projects, such as the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador. The location is home to 2,200 tree species, and the area has much biodiversity in need of protection.

Iain Valentine, animal conservation director at Edinburgh Z0o in Scotland, on the other hand, argued that saving pandas is not a form of greenwash. Valentine was responsible for bringing two pandas to the Scotland zoo last year after making a deal with China.

Valentine said pandas have an unparalleled charm that makes them popular. He added that profits gained because of pandas go directly to panda conservation, and panda conservation does not use or take away the budget of other projects.

Furthermore, protecting pandas helps protect other species living in the same habitats. Valentine mentioned China’s Wolong as an example, which is a well-known panda reserve and UNESCO site. He said the area’s biodiversity has been better cared for because pandas live there.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think pandas get more attention than other endangered plants or animals?
·         What other animal or plant do you think is worth protecting? Why do you think so?

Discussion B

·         Is giving money to save endangered species a good idea? Please explain your answer.
·         What conservation projects would you most likely support? Why do you choose this?


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