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Land Trust
Alliance

The Paradise
Ranger Awards

Land Trust
Alliance

The Paradise
Ranger Awards

Nature Reserve

Old Creek
Protected Area

Location and Area:

110 km2 under the jurisdiction of Pingwu County, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province.

Features:

Pingwu County is well-known for sheltering giant pandas. The Old Creek is China's first nature reserve that was established and managed by private, nonprofit organizations.

Background:

The Old Creek Nature Reserve (hereinafter referred to as "the Old Creek"), formerly a state-owned forest farm, is the first land-trust nature reserve founded in China, covering an area of 110 km2. When a natural forest conservation program was rolled out nationwide in 1998, logging was prohibited in the area, making it necessary to consider a balance between conservation and livelihood development.

In September 2011, a group of entrepreneurs who were enthusiastic about public welfare joined efforts to build a Sichuan West Nature Conservation Foundation, SWNCF (currently ‘Sichuan Paradise Foundation'), an agency dedicated to providing ongoing financial support for local conservation efforts. SWNCF entered into an agreement with the Pingwu County government in 2012 for the placement of the land in the foundation's trust for a fifty-year period, paving the way for SWNCF to exercise managerial authority over the land. In 2013, SWNCF managed to make the land a county-level nature reserve, and in the following year, established the Old Creek Nature Reserve Conservation Center, a localized agency that took in the staff of the former forest farm and brought the land under long-term protection and management.

Strategy:

In its adherence to both evidence-based conservation and community development, the Old Creek Nature Reserve explores possibilities for sustainable management.

Approach to evidence-based conservation:

By the time the Old Creek started to be established, the Conservation Center had already joined with several research institutes and universities to carry out detail-oriented baseline surveys on wildlife resources in the Old Creek, report on wildlife diversity, select 8 main conservation targets (giant pandas and their habitat, the mountain stream ecosystem, evergreen and secondary broad-leaved forest, forest ungulates, Asian golden cats and other large and medium-sized carnivores, golden snub-nosed monkeys, alpine shrubs and meadows), and to identify major existing threats, based on which conservation resources, as well as monitoring for scientific research, would be properly allocated.

Progress:

The Old Creek Conservation Center adjusted and optimized its internal management functions, delineating the duties of the base, conservation stations, and the administrative departments; the middle management has been deployed supplementary to the lower grassroots forces.
The Conservation Center optimized the patrol route, improved the team's data processing capabilities, processed the monitoring data in a timely manner, and adjusted the patrol forces accordingly. By the end of August 2018, 281 people had been engaged in patrol duties over a length of 1,212 kilometers, 35 snare traps cleared, 2 loggers caught, and 181 tourists stopped. In addition, the local wildlife sighting rates considerably rose.
Community work became part of the conservation stations' work, and the relationship with local communities has been deepened. By the end of August 2018, 179 workers had paid community visits, 139 households visited, the farmers' field school set up once, and farmers' technical exchange and study had been conducted twice.
We further pushed the boundaries of the expansion zone to include all the surrounding communities and integrated the nearby three villages into joint patrol.
The pre-investigation and mobilization for community-based conservation have been completed in the villages of Xinyi and Fushou; the first has done exceptionally well in conservation. Now Xinyi Village is pressing ahead with its agenda to establish a 40 km2 protected area along the Xinyi Gorge.
The Old Creek Winery is restructuring itself into a corporate entity, earmarked for customized agriculture to face real market-based challenges, while the nature reserve's supporting functions, such as logistics management, have been all again carried over to its own administrative capacity.
Golden Snub-nosed Monkey
Koklass Pheasant
Giant Panda

Nature Reserve

Bayuelin Land-trust
Protected Area

Location and Area:

102 km2 under the jurisdiction of Jinkouhe District, Leshan City, Sichuan Province.

Features:

This is the historical range area of the Xiaoliang Mountain giant panda population. It is also home to other rare species, such as takin, Sichuan partridge, and dove-trees. Currently, the area is placed in a private nonprofit organization's trust as authorized by the county-level nature reserve.

Background:

The 102.34 km2 Bayuelin Nature Reserve neighbors an ethnic Yi community called Linfeng Village two kilometers away. Dominated by the mountain stream ecosystem, it serves as a migration corridor for the Xiaoliang Mountain giant panda population and sympatric species.

Even though Bayuelin Nature Reserve was designated as a giant panda reserve back in 2006, little substantial conservation impact has been achieved due to the lack of financial, human, and technical resources. The populations of many protected species are still declining.

After a succession of studies, the Jinkouhe District government decided in 2014 to place the forest in our trust based on the earlier experience with and best practices for the Old Creek, with scientific support from TNC China experts.

Progress:

We have followed up on what was previously done and have rolled out grid monitoring for rigorous control over herb gathering and grazing. During the season a total of 916 herb gatherers and 443 motorcycles were granted access upon registration and were asked to return within one day; 242 villagers have patrolled approximately 289 km.
To reduce any tension left between the nature reserve and the local community after exercising rigorous management for herb gathering and grazing activities, the Conservation Center donated toys and books to Linfeng Village, supported 10 poverty-stricken households to raise bees, and helped the village to repair three bridges. At the same time, we supported community tea sales: 5,000 kilograms of tea was harvested and sold for 350,000 yuan, benefiting 105 households.
We have recruited new patrol members, conducted capacity training, and have achieved a healthy turnover.
We have entered an agreement with the Jinkouhe District government to rationalize the management relations, handed all the managerial duties over to the Bayuelin Conservation Center, and withdrew the old administration. Work handover and follow-up personnel placement are currently underway.
To strengthen the management of the community collectively owned forest within the protected area, we are currently working with local governments and communities to prepare a co-management committee as a measure to promote a participatory approach.
Lesser Panda Black Bear
Lady Amherst's Pheasant

Nature Reserve

Xianghai Land-trust
Protected Area

Location and Area:

175 km2, placed in our trust as part of the 1,054 km2 Xianghai National Nature Reserve on the Songnen Plain, one of China's priority regions for biodiversity conservation, under the jurisdiction of Tongyu County, Baicheng City, Jilin Province.

Features:

This is a partial land trust at the national level.

Background:

Xianghai is an important breeding ground for migratory birds, serving as a key rest stop during migration. It is rich in biological resources: Recorded to date are 293 bird species in 132 genera, 53 families and 17 orders, of which 10 are national Class I protected species. Of the world's merely 2,000 red-crowned cranes, as many as 200 may come to breed here. The area also boasts of diverse landscapes. A crisscross of dune ridges and swales gives rise to four types of habitat: interdune elm woods, prairies, reed marshes, and lakes. Unfortunately, in a worrisome state of conservation, Xianghai is undergoing a serious degradation of natural resources. On the one hand, the conservation input made available is too limited for such a huge expanse of land to be conserved. On the other hand, the complexity of the land ownership involved allows for excessive human activity, posing tremendous challenges to its conservation management.

In 2015, with the support of the Jilin government, the Tongyu County government launched a two-year relocation project, aiming to completely move the farming community and farms from inside the core zone to outside the nature reserve. As per a three-party agreement we signed with the Tongyu County government and the Xianghai Nature Reserve Administration, the 175 km2 core zone was placed in our trust for 30 years, under the supervision of the two other parties.

To perform our management duties, we financed the founding of Tongyu Xianghai Conservation Center, a private, non-corporate organization which was registered with the Tongyu Civil Affairs Bureau in January 2017.

Progress:

As of December 2018, the Xianghai team had 12 members aboard, 10 of whom were residents from the surrounding villages.
After two years of conservation, red-crowned cranes, which had disappeared for a decade, flew back to the Xianghai Wetlands for breeding in 2018.
From April 2017 to December 2018, the patrolled kilometrage reached 81,621.60 km, and 894 illegal activities were handled with the support of law enforcement from the Xianghai Nature Reserve Administration.
Since July 2017, we have been working to curb illegal activities in a new mechanism we established with the Xianghai Nature Reserve Administration to add law enforcement power to year-round routine patrol.
Since October 2017, we have been conducting anti-poaching activities all year round with the Xianghai Forest Public Security Bureau. Up till now, our joint forces have processed 18 criminal cases concerning wildlife.

Nature Reserve

Jiulongfeng Land-trust
Protected Area

Tufted Deer Giant Salamander

Location and Area:

40 km2 under the jurisdiction of Huangshan District, Huangshan City.

Features:

This is a provincial-level land trust.

Background:

The 40 km2 Jiulongfeng Protected Area is located west of the Huangshan Scenic Area, consisting of the provincial Jiulongfeng Nature Reserve and the Yanghu Lake Protected Area. It is home to 35 national key protected animals, including five Class I species, and three of them are cloud leopards, tufted deer, and Elliot's pheasants. Some critically endangered species can also be found in the area, such as the Chinese wild pangolin and giant salamander and the yellow-headed box turtle, in addition to 50 of Anhui's provincial key protected animals and 190 species nationally recognized as beneficial or having high economic and scientific value to humanity (including 5 insect species). The Yanghu Lake Protected Area marked the first effort of the kind Alipay has undertaken under an online environmental initiative called Ant Forest. More than 1.6 million Internet users across China either viewed or supported the cause 8 days after it was put online.

However, the protected area has been troubled with frequent human activity and the severe fragmentation of the surrounding natural forest; the incidences of logging and poaching remain rather high as well. Local communities rely heavily on natural resources (tea, herbs, hunting, etc.) to live by. Despite a great number of measures taken against these problems, logging and poaching persist. On top of all these is unauthorized fishing, including explicitly prohibited means to fish by poisoning and electrification.

In March 2018, we signed a cooperation agreement with the Huangshan District government and thereby were entitled to the entrusted management of the Jiulongfeng Protected Area for a term of 50 years. With our help, Green Anhui, a local environmental organization, established a Green Anhui Conservation Center in Huangshan District, Huangshan City, as an administrative body for the routine operation and management of the protected area.

Progress:

In June 2018, we entered a land trust management agreement with Huangshan District, and the land-trust protected area was officially recognized thereafter.
We have set up a 12-strong conservation team to complete a three-tier patrol system and establish two checkpoints. The annual patrol kilometrage reached 2,348.05 kilometers.
Fivestar Holdings, one of our corporate board members, founded Fivestars Paradise, a social enterprise whose profits will all be used to fund the conservation of the Jiulongfeng Protected Area. Back on local eco-resources, Fivestar Paradise forged the mineral water brand "Lequan," supported the local community to set up a "Huangshan Shangxianyue B&B Tourism Cooperative," and turned more than ten new and old houses into a B&B complex. During the trial operation, 11 households each averagely earned more than 10,000 yuan from this new practice.

Nature Reserve

Taiyangping Land-trust
Protected Area

Location and Area:

85 km2 under the jurisdiction of Songluo Town, Shennongjia Forest District, Hubei Province.

Features:

This is a protected area established in our trust as authorized by the state-owned forest farm to achieve a balance between conservation and community development.

Background:

The Shennongjia Forest District government placed the 85 km2 state-owned forest in our trust. The major conservation targets identified in this area are rare species such as dwarf musk deer, black bears, dove trees, and Chinese yew. There are 6 communities around the protected area, and the villagers make earnings by gathering herbs and raising cattle, among other livelihoods, inside the protected area, exhibiting quite a conflict with conservation. Based on rigorous conservation measures, the Taiyangping Conservation Center will identify sustainable resources to allow for the local communities to benefit from their sustainable use while supporting conservation efforts.

Progress:

On December 17, 2018, Shennongjia Taiyangping Conservation Center was founded.
A patrol team was set to work in the protected area.
A community anti-hunting campaign was launched, and 13 households turned over one electric hunting machine, 26 steel-jaw leghold traps, and 357 snare traps.
More work has been done to help the surrounding communities set up their own patrol teams, and the villagers have made spontaneous efforts to manage the forest.