Gateway to the Giant Panda: Community-Based Conservation

Part Three of a three-part series. (1, 2)

Professor Li discusses threats to the boundaries of the new national park with Dujiangyan Forestry Department and TNC staff.
A beekeeper produces sustainable honey near Zhaogong Shan in Dujiangyan.

Sustainable Economic Activity & Working with Local Communities

The two major issues that community conservation overlaps with are habitat loss and local economic activity, which needs to be countered with more sustainable forms of economic livelihood. When working with local communities, It’s important to realize that each individual community has its own values, policies, and methods to maintain economic value. It is thus necessary to be willing not only to choose management priorities, but also to adjust protection goals, plans, and methods that support a high degree of sovereign local management.

Mr. Wang, a local community manager, gives the rundown on current economic activity in his village.

Hongkou Village Land Use Case Study

Hongkou Village is composed of 6 small neighborhoods and a total of 880 residents. The community currently has three main sources of revenue: cultivating trees related to Chinese medicine, growing kiwi fruits, and tourism. The challenge TNC faces is to ensure that the development of the Longxi-Hongkou and the new Giant Panda National Park — including any restoration projects — does not negatively impact the local economy. Currently, family income in the community is expected to be about 200–300 RMB ($30–40) per day. Any replacement projects or new economic activity will need to at least reach — or preferably exceed — these totals.

Western China, via Google Earth. Longxi-Hongkou is located in the Hengduan Mountain Range, center.

Conclusion

Stories like this are common in Sichuan and across China, and implementing community-based conservation practices, effective forms of environmental education, and solid reserve management are some of the key obstacles facing conservation in China today. Overall, however, this offers China an opportunity to develop new, innovative solutions to conservation problems plaguing the entire developing world.

Conservation & development with an eye on China.

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