Located in Pingwu County, Sichuan Province, Laohegou is part of the famous giant panda habitat in China. It also falls within the boundary of the Minshan Mountains, adjoining Hengduan Mountains in the north, which was identified by China Biodiversity Conservation Strategies and Action Plan as priority for action for the rich biodiversity.
Covering a total area of 110 square kilometers, Laohegou Reserve represents the first ever civil protected area in China. This site used to be a state-owned forest farm first established in the 1970s for lumber production. Since the imposition of a nationwide logging ban on natural forests in 1998 by the central government, the forest farm faced great pressure both in nature conservation and economic development.
In September 2011, a group of entrepreneurs who were enthusiastic about improvement of public well-being came together to create Sichuan Nature Conservation Foundation, SNCF (the current ‘Sichuan Paradise Foundation’), a funding agency dedicated to provide ongoing financial support for local conservation efforts. SNCF entered into an agreement with Pingwu County Government in 2012 for placement of the land in the foundation’s trust for a fifty-year period, paving the way for SNCF to exercise management authority over the land. In 2013, SNCF managed to make the land a county-level reserve, and the following year, created the Laohegou Reserve Conservation Center, a localized agency that took on former forest farm staff and brought the land under long-term protection and management.
- 110 Square Kilometers
- Giant Panda Habitat
- Fully Self-Sustaining
Laohegou Reserve seeks to find a financially sustainable pathway to operational excellence, which attaches equal importance to both science-based conservation and community development.
Since founding, Laohegou Conservation Center has worked with academics, botanists and zoologists from a number of research and academic institutions to undertake comprehensive resource inventory processes on local animals and plants, and delivered a series of studies on the local biodiversity. The Center’s science team identified eight key conservation targets for action (i.e., the giant panda and its habitats, alpine ravine ecosystems, evergreen and second growth forest, forest ungulates, large carnivorous animals such as the Asian golden cat, the Sichuan golden monkey, alpine scrubs and meadows), and assessed the key threats to those targets (e.g., illegal poaching, trapping and fishing). Based on the assessments, resources were allocated in appropriate proportions for implementing conservation, scientific research and monitoring operations over the local biodiversity dynamics.
By building a good rapport with our ‘neighbors’ of the traditional rural communities living on the land, Laohegou Reserve has been seeking to pilot a conservation-development model that accommodates the local communities’ needs as well as those for biodiversity conservation. Over the past years, the Reserve has helped promote creation of village councils for discussion and consultation among the community members, assisted the villagers in cultivating organic farm products and operating tourism services, which has greatly benefited the villagers in financial terms, and created a special fund dedicated to local children’s education.
Most recently, the Reserve founded a social enterprise, Pingwu Baihuagu Honey Products Co. Ltd, which specializes in sales of organic farm products. This effort, aiming to separate the Reserve’s profit-making operations (i.e., hospitality and sales of honey products) from its Reserve-based conservation activities, represented part of the Reserve’s pioneering efforts to adopt a business approach to enabling its conservation operations in a self-supporting, financially sustainable manner by generating ongoing flows of funding for the community development and the Reserve-based conservation operations.
By the end of 2016, Laohegou Reserve had become fully self-sustaining through funding generated from its business operations.
Bayuelin Reserve, located in Jinkouhe District of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, provides habitat for a variety of wild animals such as Giant Panda, Takin, and Sichuan Partridge.
The 102.34-square mile Bayuelin Reserve adjoins an ethnic Yi community of Linfeng Village, which is about two miles away. With upland stream ecosystems dominating the landscape, this reserve represents a potential pathway for the giant panda populations and its associated companion species on Xiaoliang Mountains to spread to Daxiang Ridge.
Despite the fact that Bayuelin was designated as a giant panda reserve dating back to 2006, little substantial conservation impact had been generated for years because its management body lacked financial, human, and technical resources. The past decade has witnessed a gradual disappearance of many species with protection status.
After a succession of research, Jinkouhe District Government decided in 2014 to place the reserve in the trust of the Paradise Foundation (the former Sichuan Nature Conservation Foundation) for management and operation. Since then Bayuelin has become the second civil protected area ever created in Sichuan, for which proven experience and best practices in Laohegou Reserve will be introduced for use by a newly restructured management body, with scientific guidance from TNC China experts.
- 102 Square miles
- Sichuan Partridge，the special specie
- Mountain tea
To introduce successful experience and best practices in Laohegou Reserve to Bayuelin Reserve. The effort will focus on creating ‘good neighbors’ co-management mechanisms that help strike a balance between meeting conservation and development needs.
To build Bayuelin Reserve into a science-based, properly operating protected area, efforts will be made to:
- Develop and implement protected area management systems.
- Establish science-based monitoring systems, undertake regular land patrols, field surveys and evaluations.
- Build a self-performing team with abilities to lead local conservation endeavors.
Natural Resource Management
To regulate natural resource conservation and use, including:
- Develop community participatory co-management mechanisms for achieving the goal of community development compatible with conservation.
- Promote and enable regulated, sustainable harvests of NTFPs.
To assist in developing local resource-based alternative livelihoods that appeal to community members for engagement, including:
- Design and develop environmentally friendly alternative livelihoods for communities.
- Create an open facility for multi-party cooperation and bring in resources from both public and private sectors.
Paradise Foundation entered into an agreement for land trust with Leshan City Jinkouhe District Government, paving the way for placing an existing nature reserve in the trust of a private nonprofit organization for operation and stewardship.
Paradise Foundation created Bayuelin Nature Conservation Center to assume the role of the Reserve’s field management agency, which created its management team and soon started Reserve-based conservation operations and community development endeavors.
Initial field surveys for resource inventory were completed to lay the foundation for updating work plans for conservation action and refining the Reserve’s conservation management procedures.
Field surveys for inventory of the resources in the Reserve were completed, and building on the results from those surveys, local conservation targets were identified as the giant panda, the Sichuan partridge and large/medium mammals (e.g., takin).
Fifty kilograms of organic tea were produced by the community operations with assistance from the Conservation Center and sold, to generate a total of CNY 150,000 in cash incomes for fifty households.
The Conservation Center signed employment contracts with some former forest farm workers and began to implement its work plans for conservation action.
Being part of the Mutunhai Wetland in Heqing County of Dali Prefecture, Yunnan, the Western Caohai Reserve is located on the avian migratory route that stretches along the Hengduan Mountains, providing habitat for numerous migratory birds in winter every year.
Despite its small size, the one-square kilometer Western Caohai is teeming with 8,000 to 10,000 migratory birds from the north in winter each year. This small stretch of wetland is also a critical water source to more than 20,000 people living in five villages around it, who rely on agricultural farming on about 667 hectares of croplands for livelihoods. As the patchwork of wetland and croplands forms an integrated ecosystem, this site deserves to be conserved, both for its wetland-based biodiversity and for the ecosystem services it offers.
In December 23, 2014, the Paradise Foundation entered into a cooperative agreement with Heqing County Government for implementing a demonstration project to build the wetland into a civil protected area, and created Heqing Western Caohai Conservation Center, the wetland’s management body, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
- 1 Square Kilometer
- 8-10,000 Migratory Birds
- Critical Wetland Area
The visitor center housed in the Conservation Center’s office building is open to the public, which serves multiple functions as a facility for exhibit display, professional interpretation and environmental education. The center is dedicated to become important demonstration for local efforts to and conserve manage wetlands in China.
2. Nature Education & Events
The Conservation Center hosts various wetland-based nature education events and activities in its efforts to disseminate information about the values of wetlands, such as supplying water for human consumption and cropland irrigation so that the general public will learn about wetland-related knowledge.
3. Science-based Conservation
To date field surveys and assessments for inventory of key local ecological components have been completed for establishing and developing protocols concerning monitoring of critical ecosystem indicators, including assessment of birds, reptiles, aquatic plants, hydrology and water quality. Currently under way is a planning process for local eco-conservation and restoration actions.
4. Patrols & Monitoring Operations
The Conservation Center is also working to create a 3-tiered wetland patrol system, which includes such as components of day-to-day patrols, special-purposed patrols and illegal poaching targeted patrols.
To build Western Caohai Reserve into a highly open, privately managed wetland protected area with focus on conservation and restoration of waterfowl habitat, which serves multiple functions at once, including environmental education, visitor recreations, wetland management training and provision of such ecosystem services as supplying water for drinking and irrigational purposes.
Conservation & Restoration Action Plan for Western Caohai was developed.
The Wetland Patrol Team under the Conservation Center was created.
The Western Caohai Reserve Conservation Center was created.
Paradise Foundation entered into a cooperative agreement with Heqing County Government for implementing a demonstration project to build the wetland into a protected area under land trust.
Located in Xianghai Mongol Autonomous Town, Tongyu County, Baicheng City, Jilin Province, Xianghai reserve belongs to Songnen Plain, a priority area for biodiversity conservation with the most widely distributed and concentrated swamps in China.
As a major reproducing area and habitat of migrant birds, Xianghai reserve is rich in biological resources, with registered birds of 17 orders, 53 families, 132 genera and 293 species, among which 10 species are under first-grade state protection. Up to 200, out of 2000 rare red-crowned cranes around the world live and multiply here. Xianghai reserve has so much to offer in natural beauty. Ridged sand dunes and inter-dune depressions distributed alternately, cultivating four diverse habitat landscapes: vast sand dunes and elm forest coexisting, boundless grasslands rolling, expansive reeds and cattails looming, bright waters and lakes rippling.
However, a more worrying picture emerges in Xianghai’s conservation, resulting in degradation of natural resources. Inadequate investment, against the huge area that Xianghai reserve covers, is partially to be blamed for. At the same time, murky land ownership also gives rise to lots of unregulated production activities, posing greater challenges to conservation management of the zone.
Since 2015, with the support from Jilin provincial government, Tongyu county government has been planning to launch migration and resettlement programs in core areas of Xianghai reserve, where population displacement and land use conversion are set to be finished within two years. The next year, a thirty-year tripartite arrangement has been reached among Tongyu county government, Administrative Committee of Xianghai National Nature Preservation Zone, and the Paradise International Foundation. Conservation projects within 100 square kilometers’ area in the zone will be carried out by the foundation, under the joint supervision of the county government and the administrative committee of the preservation zone.
- Internationally Important Wetland
- Migrant Bird Refuge
- Four Diverse Habitat Landscapes
Faced with the complexity in Xianghai reserve conservation and the current utilization situation, biodiversity evaluations in the nature preservation zone will be conducted. Key conservation areas and priority restoration areas will be identified. A master plan will be proposed with due consideration for local development needs.
Our conservation projects are rooted in good science, with work focusing on four specific areas: Conservation management, background survey, ecological monitoring and research cooperation. At the same time, include nearby villages, such as Shengli village, Jianshe village and Tuanjie village, into the expansion area of the conservation zone and recruit staff from these villages to work in our conservation center.
Drawing on the best practices of Laohegou reserve in Sichuan, we are poised to promote local ecological agriculture, especially “customized agriculture” with ecological planting and breeding at its core.
With management maturity, moveable nature camps will also be introduced in separate areas near the conservation zone with good views. Ideally in 3 to 5 years, the conservation operation can be entirely financed by industries in this zone.
- Restore unique semi-arid wetland ecosystem and save rare species in this zone.
- Cement Xianghai reserve’s core status in priority areas for biodiversity protection to be part of the success story in internationally important wetland restoration and conservation.
- Lead farmers down on a path of eco-friendly development around the conservation zone, therefore serving as a model for win-win scenario between natural resources restoration, conservation and local economic development.
Dec 15, 2016
Tripartite framework agreement signed among Tongyu county government, Administrative Committee of Xianghai National Nature Preservation Zone, and the Paradise International Foundation.
Jan 13, 2017
Registration finished for Tongyu, Xianghai Conservation Ecology Center.