Like many rural communities, families in Western China are dependent upon forests, grasslands, marginal farmland and other natural resources. However, many are not utilizing the resources in sustainable ways.
In China, the Biodiversity Conservation program at the Global Environmental Institute (GEI) takes ecological protection as the ultimate goal. To support this goal, GEI is continuing to scale up the Community-driven Conservation Concession Agreement mechanism.
In 2011 the Ningxia Yunwu Mountain Grassland Reserve was expanded, resulting in the loss of significant areas of arable land and meadows by local herdsmen and restricting their raising of livestock. The Reserve has acknowledged the development of animal husbandry in surrounding communities as a priority from the start, and has provided support by means of importing high-quality animals to allow surrounding communities to reduce animal numbers while simultaneously raising the quality and quantity of their animal produce. They have also helped local herdsmen to improve surrounding degraded grasslands, provided excellent quality grazing land and introduced semi-confinement raising, among other methods, to assist local herdsmen. But due to local economic circumstances, some herding families were still left unable to sustain their livelihoods and therefore frequently entered the Reserve area to graze livestock or take pasture, thus damaging recovery of the grassland’s vegetation cover.
GEI employed the CCA mechanism to support the signing of ‘Grassland Conservation Management Agreements’ between the Reserve and local communities, whereby both parties agree to work to conserve the grasslands. This approach alleviates the conflict between the need to protect the grasslands and herders sustaining their livelihoods and enlarge the area protected by the Yunwu Mountain Grassland Reserve in actuality. By participating in conservation work through patrols, community residents can acquire patrol expenses along with high quality pasture seeds and production tools. They can also participate in training covering subjects such as cultivation and pasture growing techniques.
Implementing the CCA approach in Ningxia is resulting in an increase in pasture yield and is achieving situation where herders have sufficient livestock to consume as food or to sell. This means herders are no longer forced to go inside the Nature Reserve to retrieve pasturage or medicinal herbs, thus protecting the ecology of the grasslands.
Looking forward, GEI will continue enlarge the fund in order to support more local communities to develop their cultivation industries and increase economic income.
Global Environmental Institute
Addressing social and economic causes and effects
Institutional solutions, Market mechanisms
—Li Nuyun, China Green Carbon Foundation Secretary General
“I didn’t expect this project to turn out so well. It has already improved the economic circumstances of the herdsmen and can protect the environment of the grasslands.”