June 12, 2002
The CEPF promotes working alliances among diverse groups, combining unique capacities and eliminating duplication of efforts for a comprehensive, coordinated approach to conservation. The CEPF is unique among funding mechanisms in that it focuses on biological areas rather than political boundaries and examines conservation threats on a corridor-wide basis for maximum return on investment. It focuses on transboundary cooperation when areas rich in biological value straddle national borders, or in areas where a regional approach will be more effective than a national approach. The CEPF aims to provide civil society with an agile and flexible funding mechanism complementing funding currently available to government agencies. Given the political and economic landscape in China, however, it is important to recognize that the definition of civil society should not be strictly limited to NGOs but should also include research institutes, universities, associations, community groups, private sector, and even individuals.
The Ecosystem Profile
The focus of this ecosystem profile, the Mountains of Southwest China hotspot, overlaps with a WWF Global 200 region comprised of the Qionglai-Minshan Coniferous Forests, the Hengduan Mountains Alpine Coniferous Forests and the Nujiang-Lancang Gorge Alpine Conifer and Mixed Forests ecoregions. It also includes Yunnan Province, The Nature Conservancy's conservation focus in China. Politically, the region includes parts of western Sichuan Province, northwest Yunnan Province, eastern portions of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the southeast tip of Qinghai Province and the southern tip of Gansu Province. The hotspot is the most biologically diverse temperate forest ecosystem in the world.
The Provincial Planning Committee of Sichuan, CI, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) organized the Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop for the Upper Yangtze, which was held in Chengdu, China from March 21-26, 2002. Although the workshop focused primarily on the ecoregions listed above; CEPF will provide resources for projects throughout the hotspot. The workshop brought together more than 80 Chinese and foreign experts in a participatory process to identify the region's most biologically important areas, assess threats and assign priorities for biodiversity conservation.
In addition to the workshop, meetings were held with other stakeholders, including central and local government agencies such as the Sichuan and Yunnan Forestry Departments, State Forestry Administration, State Environmental Protection Administration, Sichuan Tourism Bureau, Chengdu Tourism Bureau, Sichuan Construction Committee and Western Development Program Sichuan Office. Consultations were undertaken with county-level officials, nature reserve staff, local businesses such as tour agencies and operators, university environmental groups, local communities, local and international NGOs, bilateral and multilateral aid agencies and conservation experts. In all, additional meetings were held with 87 individuals representing 34 groups.
The wildlife in the Mountains of Southwest China hotspot is equally diverse, with more than 300 mammal and 686 bird species documented. The hotspot also holds a large number of special endemics and rare and endangered species, including giant panda, red panda, golden monkey, snow leopard, takin, sika deer, musk deer, white-lipped deer and at least 27 species of pheasant such as Chinese monal and white eared-pheasant. The complex topography of high mountain ridges and deep river valleys creates corridors for migration for bird species such as the black-necked crane. The Metdog County in southeast Tibet is home to the last remaining Bengal tiger population in China. Though it covers only about 10 percent of China's geographical area, the hotspot is home to about 50 percent of the country's birds and mammals and more than 30 percent of its higher plants. Furthermore, 36 of China's 87 endangered terrestrial mammals are found in the region.
This biological diversity is mirrored by great cultural diversity. The region is home to 17 of China's 55 ethnic minority groups, including the Bai, Dulong, Lisu, Naxi, Pumi, Nu, Qiang and Tibetan peoples. Over many generations, each of these cultures has accumulated a vast storehouse of indigenous knowledge of natural resources in this unique environment. The region is also traversed by some of the most important rivers in Asia, including the Bramaputra, Irawaddy, Mekong Salween and Yangtze rivers. Combined, these rivers affect the livelihood of more than half a billion people throughout a downstream area of some 3 million square kilometers.
As of the end of 2001, there were about 60 nature reserves in the region, 31 of which were designated to protect the giant panda. Most of the reserves were established in the past 10 years. The reserves cover nearly 4 percent of the total area of the region, according to the State Forestry Administration.
In an effort to establish scientific consensus on biodiversity conservation priorities for the Upper Yangtze region of China, more than 50 scientists participated in the priority-setting workshop. All three convening organizations (CI, TNC and WWF) recognize the global significance of this region and are implementing conservation programs in the area. The Sichuan Provincial Planning Commission is mandated with economic development of the western region of this important province, and recognizes the importance of sustainable development and conservation of the rich natural resources of Sichuan.
The team of experts assembled for the workshop together represented the best knowledge in each of their taxonomic specialties: mammals, plants, amphibians, reptiles, plants, fungi, insects, and vegetation. The best available species range and geographic maps and databases were made available to the experts throughout the process and served as important reference material, as well as to fill in gaps in expert knowledge. The methodology employed at the workshop facilitated the integration of expert knowledge and systematic conservation planning principles, while making use of several previously unavailable data resources.
With an objective of creating a biodiversity vision for the region, the experts worked to identify the areas that collectively represent the suite of landscapes essential to conserving the region's most biologically important landscapes and endemic and threatened species.
Synopsis of Current Threats
Ecosystem degradation has had significant social and economic impact as well. Each year 800 million tons of soil enters the Yangtze from Chongqing, Sichuan and Yunnan. The disastrous summer floods of 1998, which caused $20 billion in direct economic damages, have been primarily attributed to deforestation and erosion on the upper Yangtze.
The current array of threats to biodiversity in the region is changing rapidly due to dramatic socioeconomic change in China during the past two decades. The following threat analysis, first broken down by direct pressures and then by indirect causes, covers the threats that contribute to biodiversity loss in the region today and in recent history. These threats should be understood as heterogeneous across time and localities, i.e., changing with altitude, ecosystem type, ethnic and cultural factors and policy. Because of limited time and availability of data, the following analysis of threats and their indirect causes remains general and does not distinguish between these factors. It may be necessary to collect additional information for a finer and more in-depth analysis on the threats that affect this region. Accordingly, the range of threats addressed by specific projects seeking CEPF funding must be evaluated through site-specific biological, social, cultural and economic analysis.
Direct Ecosystem Pressures
In the 1950s, Western Sichuan was reported to have a natural forest cover of 9.8 million hectares. By the 1990s, overharvesting had reduced the natural forest cover to 2.4 million hectares, a 76 percent decrease. The 1998 national logging ban has been largely effective, but illegal commercial logging still occurs on a small scale. Logging for local use is permitted, which, combined with the land tenure issue (see below), may still have a local impact on biodiversity. It was reported that approximately 80 million cubic meters of illegal logging occurs nationwide each year. The impact of subsistence logging is difficult to quantify, but can be significant. For example, a case study by The Nature Conservancy in Diqing prefecture, Yunnan, showed that 960,000 cubic meters of logging for household needs was approved in one year.
As a result of the logging ban, current logging is predominately a subsistence activity sold in local markets rather than large-scale commercial activity. However, timber extraction from neighboring biodiverse countries such as Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Russian Far East and as far as Western Africa has increased for exportation to China as a result of the policy-raising the larger question of how China will sustain its timber needs over time.
Illegal Hunting and Unsustainable Harvest and Trade of Wildlife
In addition to the local poachers and collectors supported by illegal and legal harvest of wild animals and plants in the region, there is a chain of middlemen who profit from moving these items from the initial supplier to the consumer. Middlemen often come from provincial centers, and then hand off these commodities to brokers in major Chinese cities, who then may ship them on to international centers such as Hong Kong, Sydney and San Francisco. Therefore, it is important to note that addressing this threat will require interventions not just at the local level, but also at the levels of national and international end-use markets. In the case of legal harvesting and trade, there is little monitoring and baseline data available to support sound management that prevents these activities from being unsustainable.
A study by the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development showed that approximately 53 percent of animal products commonly used in Chinese medicines come from nationally and internationally protected animal species. Since harvest levels are very sensitive to market demand, markets represent a potential control point.
Agriculture, Population Expansion and Deforestation
Development Pressure and Government Policies
Environmental policies often suffer from insufficient scientific analysis and, as a result, implementation is often incomplete and less effective. Well-intended environmental initiatives sometimes lead to new problems. For example, since the 1980s, the Chinese government has launched several large-scale planting programs in the Yangtze watershed, including the recent National Natural Forest Protection and Grain to Green programs. Over the years, monoculture plantations have emerged and exotic tree species have been introduced, reducing both biodiversity and timber yields. In some areas, monoculture plantations suffer serious pest outbreaks. Even though the National Natural Forest Protection Program provides substantial funding to offset lost income, the funding goes only to state-owned logging companies and local governments-not to communities or individuals. Local people, therefore, turn to new sources of livelihood, such as nontimber forest products and wildlife trade, with adverse ecological impact.
Poor Reserve Management
Insecure and Ambiguous Land Tenure
Lack of Information and Awareness
Furthermore, the ecological impact of development and economic policy is often ignored simply because the importance of biodiversity is not understood. Development policies often set economic growth as the most important criterion for evaluation. At perhaps the most fundamental level, failure to value biodiversity is a root cause of environmental degradation. A sustainable approach to conservation must inform communities, business and government of their connection to nature and offer alternative lifestyle choices.
This region contains extremely complex patterns in the distribution of biodiversity. Existing information is scattered and often non-accessible to non-specialist audiences. Existing information on biodiversity and conservation in the region needs to be pooled, managed, mapped and synthesized to make it more accessible and to ensure the appropriate information is used to inform policies, projects and programs.
Lack of Capacity
With the trend toward privatization, communities will play an increasingly important role in China's civil society. Sustainable resource use will increasingly depend on improving capacities for self-governance at the community level. The social awareness and skills on resource management at village level, which integrate with traditional indigenous social system, will be critical.
Capacity, in turn, depends on training. Few universities and institutes offer conservation education programs and even fewer offer multidisciplinary training to solve practical problems in conservation. Capacity building is an urgent need in this region and throughout China.
Synopsis of Current Investment
Geographically, the National Natural Forest Protection and Grain to Green programs are focused on the Upper Yangtze and Yellow rivers. The programs focus on reducing erosion from deforestation and cultivation of sloping lands. The combined budget for the programs is estimated at $40 billion over 10 years, beginning in 2000 and ending in 2010. The primary expenditures of the National Natural Forest Protection Program are subsidies to logging companies and local governments; retraining of loggers; reforestation and forest maintenance. The Grain to Green program subsidizes individual households - farmers are paid for grain, trees and maintenance and promised the right to use the trees they plant. These two large-scale programs present perhaps the best opportunity to protect ecosystems and landscapes, but significant gaps remain in these programs and their implementation. In addition, both programs expire in 2010 and their long-term ecological impact is still uncertain. While they offer an opportunity to solidify and expand protection of key biodiversity areas, there is obviously enough space to work on longer-term solutions. For example, the recently announced Ecological Compensation Fee would help restructure the Chinese timber industry in favor of sustainable forestry. A comprehensive land use plan is necessary to define different patterns of forest use (commercial, protected and subsistence), accommodating both local needs and the public interest in environment and sustainable development. Above all, to achieve long-term ecological protection-the objective stated by both programs-their scope should be broadened from merely tree plantation and forest protection to an integrated ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation to maximize the ecological return on such a large investment.
The National Endangered Plant and Wildlife Protection and Nature Reserve Construction Program (NCP) is a new government program aimed at protecting China's biodiversity in the next 50 years. The total budget is $16.5 billion. The program is intended to improve the existing protected area system, establish new reserves, and protect and restore 15 species of endangered plants and animals nationwide. Yunnan and Sichuan provinces developed their provincial plans accordingly. In the hotspot region, the program aims to expand the nature reserve system by increasing reserves from 60 to 260 by the year 2010 and to triple the number of protected areas. The program will support 30 wildlife corridors, a few wildlife monitoring stations and conservation plans for key endangered species such as giant panda, golden monkey, musk deer and orchids. This is the largest governmental investment in biodiversity conservation ever. In 2002 alone, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces received more than $8 million, more than the total funding for protected areas in these two provinces in the last 10 years. However, like previous government investment, this fund is mostly earmarked for construction of infrastructure and provides little for improved management.
It is also worth mentioning that following the 1992 Rio Summit and signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Chinese government, under the support of GEF, developed a National Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan in 1995. The plan provides a useful guideline for foreign assistance in biodiversity conservation in China.
Bilateral and Multilateral Donors
The British, Dutch and Italian governments fund other bilateral aid projects in the region. The Japanese government assisted researchers and experts in conducting joint training and scientific research on animals and plants in Yunnan.
Two working groups under the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) conducted relevant policy research and provided recommendations. The Biodiversity Working Group (BWG) has drafted a number of technical reports on diverse topics including nature reserve management, use of native species in reforestation efforts, sustainability of traditional Chinese medicine and conservation of grasslands. With EU funding, BWG helped establish the China Species Information System that provides Internet-based information on nature reserves, endangered species, experts, invasive species and other topics. The Forest and Grassland Taskforce dealt with the issues related to the National Natural Forest Protection and Grain to Green programs and implementation through case studies and provided suggestions for these programs. It intends to broaden the debate on forest policies beyond the government.
The advantage of these multilateral and bilateral programs is their direct access to government and national policies. One example is the World Bank/GEF nature reserve project, in which the information gathered and approaches presented have been incorporated into new national plans for a reserve network. However, multilateral and bilateral programs generally work only through the national government, potentially limiting their scope of work and their impact on civil society. The sustainable benefits of these programs are also limited by governmental personnel systems and structures.
The Government of Japan has contributed to several collaborative projects between the two countries, focusing on conserving biodiversity in the Yunnan Province of China with funding provided through the Ministry of the Environment of Japan. Professor Iwatsuiki and Professor Ohba of Tokyo University are conducting research projects on floral diversity in the Yunnan Province, in collaboration with the Yunnan Branch for Chinese Academy of Science.
Under the auspices of the collaborative project for establishing an international monitoring network on migratory birds, the Ministry of the Environment, Japan co-hosted a technical training course for bird-banding survey in Yunnan Province in 1997. The Forestry Department of Chinese Government, Yunnan University, Yamashina Institute of Ornithology of Japan, and other stakeholders participated in the training course.
Upon the request of the Chinese Government's National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) a project funding mission from the Japan International Cooperation Agency has evaluated establishing a biodiversity centre in Yunnan Province.
World Wide Fund for Nature has perhaps the longest history of conservation work in China. WWF's work began with Panda conservation in the Wolong Nature Reserve in 1980, followed by a national panda and habitat survey and a national panda conservation plan in late the 1980s. Since 1995, WWF has launched a number of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDP's) in the Upper Yangtze, in areas such as Wanglang Nature Reserve (Pingwu County, Sichuan) and Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve (Deqin County, Yunnan). One notable feature of the ICDPs is their strong emphasis on participatory planning and capacity building, including training for trainers in Sichuan Forestry School. Recently, WWF also initiated an ecoregional planning process in northern Minshan area, and has developed a strong forest policy and sustainable forestry program in China. WWF has offices in both Beijing and Sichuan. Its program areas include species and protected areas, forest, ecoregional planning, environmental education, wetlands conservation and public advocacy.
The Nature Conservancy is engaged in a large-scale ecoregional conservation project located in northwest Yunnan province. The project encompasses four prefectures and 15 counties, an area of approximately 66,000 km2, and falls within the hotspot. The Yunnan Provincial government and TNC committed $5 million to the project over five years, beginning in 1997. The project includes five modules, (1) biodiversity protection; (2) cultural resource protection; (3) sustainable economic development; (4) regional planning; and (5) geographic information system mapping. As part of this project, a regional conservation and development action plan and an ecoregional conservation plan have been developed. Current activities are focused on conservation management activities and sustainable development initiatives in Meilixueshan/Kawagebo in Deqin County, Laojunshan in Lijiang, Jianchuan and Lanping counties, Nujiang Grand Canyon in Gongshan, Fugong and Lishui counties, and Lashihai Watershed in Lijiang County.
Conservation International is an emerging actor in conservation in the region, focusing mainly on South-Central Sichuan. Aside from advising government agencies and local communities on the sustainability of economic development in areas of biological richness in the Hengduan Mountains, CI has supported the ecoregional conservation priority-setting process for the Upper Yangtze region. CI's presence in the region should increase substantially over the next few years as it orients toward more ground-level conservation and development activities.
Ford Foundation began its China Program in the late 1970s. Its aim in the hotspot region is to help poor upland communities in southwest China to derive sustainable livelihoods from natural resources. It focuses on capacity building for community forestry practice and policy; people-centered development approaches; and the nexus between minority culture and natural resources management. Ford Foundation support has raised the capacity of Chinese NGOs, increasing their ability to influence governmental agencies, such as the Forestry Department, in implementing government-funded projects.
Wildlife Conservation Society has sponsored and conducted continuous and extensive wildlife research and surveys in Sichuan, Tibet and other remote areas in this region since the early 1980s. WCS also conducted reserve management training and environmental education projects in Yunnan and Sichuan.
TRAFFIC has identified the region as a primary source for wildlife products used in traditional East Asian medicine and a priority for expanded conservation action. Following its recent comprehensive study of the international trade in China's traditional plant-based medicines (funded by the German Bundesamt für Naturschutz), TRAFFIC is exploring new opportunities to research markets for illegal and/or unsustainable wildlife collection and to identify the needs of local producers, wildlife law enforcers, policy makers and consumers. TRAFFIC places specific emphasis on ensuring that wildlife trade is maintained within sustainable and legal levels and does not endanger any species of plant or animal, or have negative impacts on ecosystems.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has been active in China for more than 15 years. As a member country, China participates in IUCN's regional and global activities and many Chinese scientists participate in the organization's six expert commissions. Its work includes implementation of international conventions and policy advice on biodiversity conservation through activities like the Red List Programme and relevant training. IUCN's geographical focus is in Southwest China. The Regional Forest Program has prepared project proposals on forest management in Southwest China.The Regional Biodiversity Programme for Asia (RBP) is actively working in China to help the Dujiangyan municipality develop a sub-national Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).
MacArthur Foundation's focal area in Indo-Burma covers western Yunnan and southeastern Tibet. Since the mid-1990s, the MacArthur Foundation has funded a number of projects through WCS, Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Tibet Forestry Department on environmental education, biodiversity surveys and training.
The Bridge Fund has recently funded a series of studies looking at resource use in Tibetan communities in Western Sichuan and at the impact of the National Natural Forest Protection and Grain to Green programs. Other projects include reforestation and revegetation, environmental education by Buddhist leaders, and ecotourism training workshops.
Global Greengrants Fund is a global NGO network that provides small grants to grassroots NGOs for capacity building. Recently GGF initiated its support in China.
American Zoos such as the San Diego Zoological Society, Atlanta Zoo, Washington Zoo and National Zoological Society, which have a pair of pandas loaned from Chinese zoos and breeding centers, each pay at least $1 million per year to support panda conservation as part of the loan agreements. The agreements also require the zoos to conduct scientific research on pandas, including captive breeding and natural history in the field. Zoo Atlanta's new conservation education program in China and the United States is designed to reach people of all ages about endangered species in Asia.
In summary, the biggest gaps in current investment are in conservation capacity at the grassroots level and in nature reserves; coordination of conservation activities by different stakeholders; and shared knowledge. There is also a geographical gap that has not yet received attention, such as the Tibetan areas of southwestern Sichuan. It is also important to leverage major government investment for a broader and long-term impact.
CEPF Niche for Investment in the Region
With those factors in mind, CEPF's niche for this region should be defined by the current scarcity of local and regional civil society organizations and individuals working in the realm of biodiversity conservation. The conservation movement in China is at a fledgling stage. Given the scarcity of civil society in China, however, it is important to recognize that the definition of civil society should not be strictly limited to NGOs but should also include research institutes, universities, associations, community groups, private sectors, and even individuals. With its relatively modest amounts of funding, CEPF can help nurture key individuals who would be capable of seizing opportunities for conservation presented by major national policy changes in favor of biodiversity, to build an environmental alliance in the region, and to work through larger existing initiatives toward conserving the area's remaining biodiversity and natural spaces. The next few years offer an unprecedented opportunity to safeguard the region's natural areas and species through finding, supporting, training and encouraging alliances among local conservation-minded individuals and organizations capable of working within China's unique and complex system.
Massive governmental investment in national-level policies such as Grain to Green, the National Forest Protection Program and the Western Development Program are providing coverage at the level of policies and infrastructure, but there are few individuals, organizations, businesses and communities trained to mitigate threats and take advantage of opportunities for hands-on, measurable and sustainable conservation at the ground level.
CEPF will strive to identify, train and create partnerships with individuals with the potential to influence local, regional and national policies and investments in favor of biodiversity conservation. CEPF will seek opportunities to complement existing programs and to fill in programmatic gaps remaining in the Mountains of Southwest China hotspot. Geographically, CEPF will focus exclusively on the region within the hotspot's defined boundaries, which encompass parts of three WWF ecoregions and TNC's focal landscape in Yunnan Province.
CEPF Investment Strategy and Program Focus
The table below summarizes the strategic funding directions for the CEPF in the Mountains of Southwest China hotspot.
|Strategic Directions||Investment Priorities|
|1. Develop and operationalize hotspot-wide monitoring and evaluation projects||1.1 Define five- and 10-year map-based conservation outcomes for the hotspot through a collaborative, participatory approach|
|1.2 Support projects that utilize scientific tools to evaluate changes in land cover, spatial relationships and ecosystem health|
|1.3 Establish a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the site-specific projects and ensure adaptive management and sharing of lessons learned|
|1.4 Provide resources to track human-induced environmental trends and high-resolution monitoring to report on site-specific impacts|
|1.5 Scientific research and socioeconomic analysis to better understand biodiversity and conservation issues and threats in the region|
|1.6 Improving the credibility and scientific methodology used for biodiversity conservation research in this hotspot|
|2. Support site-related projects led by civil society to mitigate key threats to natural areas and species populations||2.1 Effective nature reserve and community resource management|
|2.2 Ecotourism and environmental education as a tool to support biodiversity conservation|
|2.3 Ecosystem restoration, especially filling in the gaps in existing governmental programs|
|2.4 Projects to reduce illegal and other unsustainable wild animals and plants trade|
|2.5 Promoting biodiversity friendly "green" production or harvest of traditional Chinese medicines|
|3. Build capacity of civil society to implement conservation efforts at a site and regional level||3.1 Assess, develop and implement a series of training programs based on the training needs in the region. Training could focus on a number of topics including reserve management, the fundamentals of green businesses, business management for conservation and environmental education|
|3.2 Provide resources for individuals in the region to participate in training opportunities|
|3.3 Establish a trainers' training program in the region to multiply transfer of skills and knowledge to conservation professionals in the region|
|4. Integrate biodiversity conservation concerns and benefits into the implementation of policies and programs at local, regional and national levels||4.1 Demonstrate best-case innovative approaches for integrating biodiversity concerns into local, regional and national development programs|
|4.2 Collect and disseminate information about biodiversity and socioeconomic benefits of conservation to improve implementation of existing government initiatives and influence national policies|
|4.3 Communicate successful examples of innovative approaches to public-private efforts to better integrate biodiversity conservation into governmental efforts|
|5. Develop and operationalize a small grants program focusing on conservation capacity-building and research projects||5.1 Provide funding to individuals and institutions for research analysis or small-scale activities that will help build the conservation capacity of civil society and/or yield measurable mitigation of threats|
|5.2 Provide technical support to trainees to enable better design and implementation of small on-the-ground projects|