Written by Dianwu Fang, Xingyun Lake Waterkeeper; translated by Waterkeepers China Communication Associate Katherine Olson
In June of 2018, after an intensely competitive process, Xingyun Lake Waterkeeper and host organization Kunming Chuangyi Ecological Protection Research Institute undertook a United Nations Development Program/Global Environment Fund Small Grants project—the “Further Protecting Gaoligong Mountain’s Nujiang Golden Monkeys through a Community Nature Preserve” project. The project, which will run for two and half years, is based in Pianma Village, Lishui City, located in the area where three rivers intersect at Gaoligong Mountains in the northwestern region of Yunnan Province.
Gaoligong Mountain is a biodiversity hotspot: in 1992, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) designated it as an A-level wildlife preserve of international significance; in 2000, UNESCO listed it as one of the “World Biosphere Preservation Areas;” in 2003, it was enlisted into UNESCO’s “World Natural Heritage Sites.” The Nujiang Golden Monkey is one of the most endangered primates in the world, and over 500 of them—more than half of their total global population—live at the project site.
The project started in July of 2018. Government representatives, village representatives from four local villages of Pianma town, Lushui city, and our project staff attended the project kickoff meeting and toured Pianma and Piansihe villages where they held a mobilization meeting, which attracted 118 village representatives. In October, once the project funds were received, a protection mechanism gradually emerged for protecting the Nujiang Golden Monkeys and their habitat area: project staff set up digital cameras and infrared cameras, villagers conducted patrols and species assessments, and a standardized management system was put in place for agricultural chemicals to prevent previous habits of casually and randomly using pesticides, fungicides, and weed killers. In addition to these efforts, project staff set up tourism routes, planted trees, came up with innovative ways to acquire revenue, encouraged villagers to switch from relying upon logging and hunting to a new ecological economy lifestyle, set up a community seed bank, and ensured overall effective management and benefit sharing in order to keep the project developing and building upon itself long-term.
In November of 2018, UN Development Program ran a “Community Wildlife Preserve and Internally-Driven Community Development” workshop in Lijiang, Yunnan, during which project staff from various nature preserves explained their methods and experiences in villager self-governance, cohesive community cultivation, conflict resolution, and more. After the workshop, representatives saw an operation demonstration of Hexiazu Village’s mutual aid and cooperation bank program and learned about Liguang Village’s accomplishments in garbage treatment, rural co-ops, ecological tourism on Laojun Mountain, white kidney bean planting, and other projects.
The project is progressing systematically. Our project staff plans to visit local sites this April or May for further assisting villagers to complete self-governance rules on their community Nature Preserve. We are looking forward to a scenario in which remote rural villages achieve a “win-win” between environmental protection and economic productivity, and hope that such projects will soon be a common sight in the near future.