Klaus Maier (right), president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd, and an UN official jointly held up a bill showing the German auto firm donated 5.5 million yuan to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for "Green Legacy Program" on April 8.
Following up on last October's trip to Sichuan Ya'an Giant Panda Sanctuaries, Klaus Maier is planning a tour to South China Karst, another world heritage site.
Maier, a German nature lover and president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd, says he really enjoyed the beautiful scenery in Ya'an and he believes that South China Karst will be similarly breathtaking.
"The amazing and breathtaking sights of Ya'an sanctuaries are an endorsement of what Mercedes-Benz does in terms of natural heritage site conservation," he says.
The company is undertaking similar efforts to protect China South Karst.
Both sites are covered by Mercedes-Benz's three-year Green Legacy Program, which is carried out under cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and aims to protect prized China's natural heritage sites.
The program was officially launched last September with an initial investment of 1 million yuan for the Ya'an Panda conservation areas. Recognizing the great progress made in the program's first year, the world's leading automaker decided to intensify its support.
Early this month, it announced a 5.5 million yuan donation for the program's second year, bringing its Green Legacy Program contribution to 6.5 million yuan to date and greatly expanding on its original pledge of 3 million yuan over a three-year period.
According to Maier, Mercedes-Benz's has scored many achievements in the last year under close guidance and support from UNESCO and Ya'an authorities. The program has enhanced the overall protection and management capabilities in the Sichuan Ya'an Giant Panda Sanctuaries through well-planned staff training, improved site infrastructures as well as increased public awareness on environmental protection.
"This year, activities identified to receive our support will focus mainly on improving the habitat conditions of our precious pandas as well as overall site management capacity," Maier says.
These activities include the establishment of the new Giant Panda Habitat Corridor to allow pandas to move freely between habitats - and free from human disturbances; the establishment of two new field monitoring stations with an enhanced digital database; survey studies on the present biodiversity and the socio-economic and community development; production of a management plan with digital map formulation and comprehensive data; as well as continued staff training. The activities will cost 1.5 million yuan.
The other 4 million yuan is for the South China Karst, a site covering a total core area of 48,000 hectares in Libo in Guizhou province, Shilin in Yunnan province and Wulong in Chongqing municipality.
It represents distinctive features of the tropical and subtropical karst terrain and has evolved into an integrated tropical and subtropical karst ecosystem, of great significance for the study of geological evolution.
UNESCO, in collaboration with local authorities here, will use these funds for the establishment of resource databases to perform inventory checks on local ecological resources, building infrastructure, carrying out training for natural heritage management personnel and raising awareness on the importance of environmental protection.
Maier says South China Karst is a natural heritage site that "bears both natural and cultural richness" and is in great need of conservation.
The recent snow disaster resulted in considerable damage to its forest vegetation. If measures are not taken, water and soil loss might worsen, causing further damage to the ecological environment.
"Additionally, this is the latest natural heritage site in China to be inscribed by UNESCO in 2007, which greatly resonates with Mercedes-Benz's philosophy of being an innovator in all its endeavors," he says.
Maier stresses that a highlight in the program this year is to raise awareness about the importance of world heritage preservation and environmental protection in local schools and the community.
Maier expects his South China Karst trip is to occur soon. "As a nature lover, I enjoy taking walks in parks and I enjoy the beautiful scenery nature offers. I personally believe that being close to nature is part of life's simplest pleasures."