Sustainable community development for whole Qinling giant panda range



Posted on 23 January 2003   |  

Xi’an, China - WWF has launched a project to carry out sustainable community development throughout the Qinling giant panda range in Shaanxi province. Launched recently, the project is part of WWF’s giant panda conservation programme in one of the world's most densely giant panda-populated regions.

The project aims to magnify the WWF-supported conservation-based community activities carried out in Changqing Nature Reserve - one of 11 nature reserves in the Qinling mountains. These activities included cultivating salmon as an alternative livelihood, installing wood-saving stoves, supporting village infirmaries and providing small amounts of credit for community development. These practices have increased public awareness of conservation and participation and helped villagers restructure logging-based industries, which ceased operation after the 1998 logging ban. They have also decreased illegal logging and poaching considerably.

With this new project, sustainable community development will now be carried out throughout the whole Qinling giant panda range. To widen its conservation approaches, the project aims to reach out to businesses that impact the economy of the local community and mobilize non-conventional stakeholders to adopt and apply conservation and sustainable use approaches in their policies, decision-making and investments.

Encompassing a total area of 52,000 km2, the Qinling Mountains are extremely biologically diverse. The area is home to a number of endangered species including the golden monkey, takin, crested ibis, golden eagle, and clouded leopard. It is one of the few remaining natural habitats where China's national symbol, the giant panda, lives. It is the natural division between northern and southern China in terms of geography and climate, and the only area that acts as a water catchment for the country's two most important rivers: the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers. It is also the only water source for Xi'an, China's ancient capital, which today has a population of over seven million.

Chinese nature reserves – including those in Qinling - are mostly located in remote mountainous areas where economic development lags behind that of more urbanized areas. Harmonizing conservation and economic development in these local communities has been a difficult task for nature reserve management in China.

The launch of the project was marked by the establishment of community-based anti-poaching teams. The teams have already begun regularly monitoring the Qinling giant panda range. In early December 2002, WWF and the Shaanxi Forestry Department sponsored a symposium in Xi’an where representatives of six nature reserves in Qinling met to discuss and lay the groundwork for eight community-based projects in the area. Experts in forestry economies from Beijing Forestry University were also on hand to introduce the concept of ‘community co-management’.

For more information, please contact

Chris Chaplin, Communications Officer, WWF-China
+86 10 6511 6237, cchaplin@wwfchina.org

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