ABSTRACT. The subtropical forests, grasslands, and wetlands of Southeast China's WuyiDaiyun Mountain Range provide essential habitats for diverse wildlife, including a dwindling population of tigers. Three primary protected areas, the Meihuashan, Wuyishan, and Longxishan Nature Reserves, contain varied wildlife habitats and also provide natural resources for 7,000 people in several dozen villages. A field-based study of land use and habitat quality in these reserves shows that anthropogenic bamboo forests are among the least valuable habitats for wildlife but that, as the primary source of household income, bamboo monoculture is spreading rapidly and replacing habitats of greater ecological value. Although authorities in Meihuashan have demarcated the many broadleaf forest patches for strict protection, household income and bamboo-management research in all three reserves suggests that successful habitat conservation may ultimately depend on more equitable systems of land tenure, improved cooperative cottage industries, and greater local economic diversification. Keywords: bamboo management, China, political ecology, wildlife conservation, Wuyi-Daiyun Mountain Range.
With an area encompassing more than 6 percent of the earth's land surface and a tremendous diversity of topographic features and climates, China is biologically among the richest countries in the world (MacKinnon 1996, 14; CI 1998).  Recognizing the urgent need to protect China's natural heritage, government agencies at all levels have established more than 900 nature reserves in the past twenty years. By 1998 more than 930 reserves covered 7.7 percent of the country's land area (Benewick and Donald 1999). More than half of the reserves, most of them containing human settlements, are in the biologically and culturally diverse tropics and subtropics of the south (Schaller 1993; Zhou 1995; Daniels 1996).
Unlike northern and western China, where most rural, nonagricultural, and nonpastoral lands are under government jurisdiction, large tracts of mountain lands in southern China are managed by villages, households, or individuals. Greater local control of forest resources in subtropical China is a legacy of centuries of wet-rice cultivation and settlement in marginal upland valleys, where villagers also managed bamboo stands, forests, and grasslands on surrounding slopes, ridges, and peaks. Although many traditions of regional land use and tenure were altered during the periods of collectivization and communization (1957-1981), state-directed economic reforms between 1979 and 1981 mandated a return of collective agricultural lands to individual households under contract, which facilitated the revival of individualistic resource-management systems and private entrepreneurialism (Muldavin 1996). In today's economic liberalization and political pluralization, villages adopt different methods for dividing and alloc ating land and natural resources to individual households. The origin, diffusion, and impacts of village-level systems of resource control and household bamboo-management strategies are a critical local conservation issue. Unlike bamboo species that sustain the giant panda populations of western China, pure stands of mao bamboo, sometimes known as brush bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens Mazel ex H. De Lahaie var. pubescens), are human formed, an anthropogenic vegetation type with great economic value but little value as a wildlife habitat. In economic terms mao bamboo is the most important of the 200 species of bamboo in China, with the most widespread distribution and the greatest total forest area. However, without intensive management by humans, which entails frequent clearing of surrounding vegetation, bamboo stands are quickly overtaken by more biologically diverse broadleaf and mixed forests (Huang 1992; MacKinnon 1996, 147).
In this study I examine the relationship between the conservation of wildlife habitats and village bamboo management in the Meihuashan, Wuyishan, and Longxishan Nature Reserves, which lie in the Wuyi-Daiyun Mountain Range of western Fujian Province, in China's Southeast Uplands (Figure 1).  The first goal of my research was to determine which vegetation types are most ecologically valuable. Subsequent research calculated the degree of local economic dependence on bamboo; and then, recognizing bamboo as a prized renewable resource, I examined how the adoption of new bamboo-management strategies and subsidiary economic activities may reduce or prevent further losses of critical wildlife habitats.
The Meihuashan, Wuyishan, and Longxishan Nature Reserves are state-designated protected areas, established between 1979 and 1989 to safeguard the highly endangered South China tiger and other rare wild plants and animals. The reserves are too small to achieve their mandated mission;  furthermore, 14-25 percent of the total area of each reserve is devoted to household and collective bamboo monocropping (Soule 1987; Xiang, Tan, and Jia 1987; Koehler 1991; Smith, Ahearn, and McDougal 1998; Wikramanayake and others 1998). In each reserve, as across much of the Southeast Uplands, villagers practice other forms of agriculture and forestry, hunt, and gather wild plants for subsistence and commercial purposes. Through time they have adapted to local environmental conditions and to regional socioeconomic change, political and military campaigns, and a plethora of government directives. The recent promulgation of new regulations for resource management imposed by nature-reserve authorities is the latest in a long se ries of social, political, and economic constraints on local prosperity (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987, 3; Muldavin 1996). Villagers recognize the power of reserve authorities, but they support reserves as institutions only to the extent that such agencies appear to serve local socioeconomic needs and cultural traditions. Recognizing the political power of folk customs concerning land and resource tenure, especially where such traditions were reinforced by Maoist agrarian policies, and increasingly cognizant of the political and economic liabilities of forced migration, the central government has adopted the United Nations' biosphere reserve model for inhabited nature reserves. In 1993 the Meihuashan, Wuyishan, and Longxishan reserves were joined with forty-two other protected areas to form the Chinese Biosphere Reserve Network (CNCMAB 1995). Although these and other reserves in China still face myriad economic, ecological, cultural, and legal challenges as they seek to protect biological diversity and facilita te community development, a deeper understanding of conditions that make them unique will assist protected-area managers and students of inhabited protected areas and community-based conservation worldwide (Bodmer 1994; Donovan 1994; Hobbs 1996; Lebbie and Freudenberger 1996; Whitesell 1996; Naughton-Treves 1997; Nietschmann 1997; Stevens 1997a, 1997b; Zimmerer 2000).
What distinguishes southern China's nature reserves from inhabited protected areas in other developing countries is the persistence of a formalized system of secure land tenure that began during collectivization and communization. Under the present system the collectives, composed of two or more individual village settlements--officially known as "natural villages"--have nominal control over agricultural land and forests. In Meihuashan, for example, the government has full jurisdiction over less than one-quarter of the reserve. The other three-quarters is under the control of collectives, even though it is owned by the government. The collectives may use the agricultural land and has rights to use the forested land. Although forest use must conform to reserve guidelines, which yearly grow stricter, regulations include provisions allowing any family, collective, or government agency that practices reforestation on "wasteland" to gain usufruct rights to the forests, in return for some of the harvested wood as tax (Luo 1994).
The policies of collectivization and the ancient traditions of local land management foster distinctive demographic and settlement conditions with relatively high population densities but stable land tenure. In comparison with many rural tropical and subtropical regions elsewhere in the world, where logging by impoverished settlers has left large swaths of heavily degraded land, there has been little in-migration and deforestation in recent years (Sponsel, Bailey, and Headland 1996). Although large-scale migrations of landless peasants rapidly deforested this part of China in centuries past, today the mountains and high valleys support a diverse weave of vegetation types in different phases of succession and under a variety of managerial regimes (Averill 1983; Hou 1983).
Few studies have been made of the relationship between the region's complex land-cover patterns and the humans and wildlife they help to sustain (Qiu 1993; Coggins 1996,1998). Research on the social, cultural, and biological values of vegetation patches in fragmented landscapes is playing an ever more important role in worldwide conservation efforts (Harris 1984; Forman and Godron 1986; Shafer 1990; Forman 1995; Schelhas and Greenberg 1996; Myers and others 2000). In Southeast China the reconstruction of historical processes of environmental change can help land managers prevent further removal of the region's broadleaf forests and associated species of plants and animals (He and Wen 1982; Huang 1985; Ma 1987; Tan 1987; Lin 1990; Bao 1993; Coggins 1998).
I first assess the habitat quality of ten vegetation types and the significance of each type for wildlife conservation. I then analyze the relationship between household bamboo management, land-tenure conditions, and the continuing expansion of bamboo forests at the expense of more ecologically and economically valuable habitats. For the residents of Meihuashan, promoting the spread of bamboo is, like poaching and illegal logging, a form of resistance to authority (Scott 1985). Such acts of nonconfrontational noncompliance are also a strategy by which villagers faced with competitive and inequitable land-tenure systems can gain access to natural resources (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987). I conclude by relating these issues to the prospects for mountain land management and wildlife conservation throughout western Fujian.
REGIONAL OVERVIEW AND RESEARCH PERSPECTIVES
The Wuyi-Daiyun region of central and western Fujian Province comprises a series of rugged, heavily eroded, granitic mountain ranges separated by fault-controlled valleys that run roughly north--south. The Wuyi Shan, with peaks rising to 1,700-2,100 meters, forms a natural barrier along the Fujian--Jiangxi border. Smaller ranges to the east exceed 1,500-1,800 meters. East--west-running faults form gaps and river valleys, which have facilitated migration and settlement. Even so, until the last three centuries central authorities viewed the area as an interior frontier, the wild and lawless hinterland of Fujian's ancient port cities (Skinner 1985). In fact, the region's high biological diversity is a function of both biogeographical and cultural conditions. Although all of China south of the Yangtze River lies within the subtropical broadleaf evergreen and tropical (or tropical monsoonal) rain-forest biomes, the Wuyi-Daiyun Range contains average population densities of only 10-50 people per square kilometer. T hus the depletion of wild flora and fauna is less severe than that in the surrounding, densely settled coastal plains and river basins, which average 100-800 people per square kilometer (Zhao 1994). Difficult terrain and diverse migration streams contribute to the region's ethnolinguistic heterogeneity: With some 104 Han dialects, Fujian contains a greater cultural variety of Han Chinese subgroups than does any other province.
The Meihuashan Nature Reserve straddles two counties--Shanghang and Liancheng--and one municipality--Longyan--in Longyan Prefecture, poorest of the nine administrative regions and cities in Fujian (Figure 2). The reserve was established in 1985 with a mandate to protect the highly endangered South China tiger. The region also supports populations of leopards, clouded leopards (Figure 3), golden cats, Asiatic black bears, Asiatic dholes (red dogs), and two species of macaques. All require large areas of suitable habitat and, with the exception of black …