Giant Panda National Park will span 10,500 square miles.

Credit: Keren Su/Getty Images

Chinese authorities announced last week that they will relocate thousands of people from the Sichuan province in order to make room for a planned panda bear reservation.

The number of people affected by this relocation varies depending on the source. The London Times reports that 200,000 people will be relocated, and the Shanghai Daily puts that number at 172,000.

The Giant Panda National Park will span 10,500 square miles across the Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces, and is one of several reservations planned for the coming years.

Humans in the region, including loggers and miners, have long threatened the habitats of the panda populations that live in this part of China. Thanks to Chinese conservation efforts, however, the panda population has slowly begun to rebound in the past several years.

Conservationists focused on protecting bamboo groves—pandas’ main source of food—in order to give the species the environment to thrive.

A recent survey reported that there are now 2,060 pandas in China, of which 1,864 are adults, according to the BBC. The International Union for Conservation of Nature updated the status of the species from “endangered” to vulnerable” as a result of this change.

"It's all about restoring the habitats," Craig Hilton-Taylor, Head of the IUCN Red List, told the BBC. "Just by restoring the panda's habitat, that's given them back their space and made food available to them."

The Giant Panda National Park is another step in the effort to restore these habitats.

Available reports from Chinese authorities did not give details as to where the relocated people will be placed, however.

Pandas are considered a national treasure in China, and it is the first species that WWF began to protect in the country, making the animals a symbol for wild conservation everywhere.