BENEFITING: The Nature Conservancy
Since China’s first nationally protected area was established in 1956, more than 2500 have been established across the country, covering 15% of the entire nation.
One of the most important functions of these protected areas is to conserve water resources. However, rapidly increasing demand due to industrial, agricultural and urban development is resulting in over-consumption of water reserves.
Statistics show that 12% of all protected areas suffer from water pollution. Over-consumption together with pollution presents a serious challenge for protected areas and those people whose lives depend on them.
The traditional approach to solving these problems depends on state investment, including financial, scientific and managerial support. However, dependency on government often turns out to be insufficient. Although state investment in protected areas is increasing, the gap between needs and provision remains vast.
In the face of this dilemma, a new model has emerged. TNC’s pilot project, Laohegou Nature Reserve in Pingwu County, Sichuan province, is a successful non-governmental nature reserve, managed by NGOs.
Strengthened by its experience, TNC is now bringing this model to water quality protection. The new reservoir project aims to leverage more social resources to conserve water in protected areas. This will reduce any over-dependency on state investment.
What's different about this new conservation model?
- Under the new model, donations from the public, including philanthropists, will be raised to establish a Water Fund. This will allow the donors to take ownership of the protected area;
- One or more NGOs will be hired as manager(s) of the protected area by the entity of the Water Fund;
- Professional tools will be applied to protected area management. This will cover aspects such as baseline surveys, a conservation action plan, fiscal management, scientific research plans, community development, information management and environmental management. Managerial effectiveness will be intensively reviewed to ensure the conservation goal is reached;
- An enabling approach to working with local people to ensure they have the tools to provide long-term support to the area;
- Community development is very much emphasized. The model will explore how to turn nature’s value into monetary assets for local people.
This project will select at least one site out of 20 potential candidates. By working with local people and applying a tested conservation solution package, the project targets the following outcomes:
- The first NGO-managed watershed protected area;
- The first Water Fund - a scalable financing mechanism for protected areas, and approach to build harmonized, prosperous communities in protected areas.
Starting from small pilots, this project will accumulate experience and lessons learned to refine and disseminate the model to other protected areas in China.
Thank you for donating today and for your support.