Using Upland Forest in Shimentai Nature Reserve, China*
Xu, Steve S. W., Jim, C. Y., The Geographical Review
A protected area (PA) is essential for biodiversity, habitat conservation, and the delivery of vital ecosystem services (McNeely 1993; Utting 1993; Ceballos-Lascurain 1996). In the past few decades, many developing countries have significantly expanded their PA systems (Ghimire 1994). For instance, between 1978 and 2000 China increased its nature reserves rapidly, from 34 to 1,227, incorporating almost 10 percent of its territory. The hasty designation of new PAS has created problems, notably the widespread escalation of people-park conflicts (Wells and Brandon 1992; Lewis 1996; Scott 1998; Liu and others 2001). The rising discords in developing countries are attributed largely to an anachronistic PA management myth that nature is separated from people and to the corollary that nature's integrity will be compromised if people are present (Wells and Brandon 1992; IUCN 1999). Limited by this myopic mind-set, reserve authorities usually relied on enforcement instruments such as guards, patrols, and penalties to deter and inhibit "illegal" activities of local inhabitants, including traditional hunting and collection, a tactic epitomized as "fences and fines" (Wells and Brandon 1992). PA managers often had to confront the wrath of local residents whose livelihoods were intertwined with PA natural resources (Lewis 1996; Harkness 1998). Drowning in this sea of hostility, many PAS literally became "paper parks" with degraded environmental quality. The pivotal roles of local inhabitants, including minority peoples, in maintaining biodiversity were unfortunately not recognized, and their potential contributions to the planning and management of PAS were seldom tapped (Kemf 1993).
PAs cannot continue to coexist with hostile local communities. Since the 1980s, people--park conflicts have attracted the attention of a wide spectrum of PA stakeholders, including researchers, park managers, national governments, and international agencies (Zube and Busch 1990; Wells and Brandon 1992; Mehta and Kellert 1998). They have advocated replacing the paramilitary approach with a community-benign one, stressing cooperation and participation of key stakeholders rather than coercion (Wells and Brandon 1992; Borrini 1996; Lewis 1996; Hackel 1999). The fundamental shift in mind-set has nurtured the Community Natural Resources Management (CNRM) conservation paradigm, emphasizing managing biodiversity by, for, and with the interests of local people (Kellert and others 2000). This innovative model is based on the belief that the benefits, costs, responsibilities, and decision-making powers of PAS should be shared through participatory mechanisms among selected stakeholders (Scott 1998). CNRM stresses achieving PA conservation objectives by improving the social and living standards of local inhabitants (Lewis 1996; Kellert and others 2000). In particular, local people are encouraged to utilize natural resources on a sustainable basis as the means to mitigate people--park conflicts in developing countries (Utting 1993; Scott 1998).
An abundance of literature with enlightening findings, especially from forest PAS, has enhanced our understanding of local use of park resources. For example, natural-resource extraction is usually limited to a few local people due to the land and resource tenure that predated PA designation (Brandon, Redford, and Sanderson 1998). The accessibility of forest resources correlates with where local people live--people who live farther away from a forest use fewer of its resources--while household socioeconomic background, such as size or wealth, plays an important role in resource utilization (Boer and Baquete 1998; Scott 1998). Some social factors, such as ethnic group and in- and out-migration, also influence the resource-use pattern (Amend and Amend 1995; Boer and Baquete 1998).
In South China some pockets of evergreen broadleaf forests still remain despite centuries of massive forest clearance and conversion. An important reason for their continued existence is the ecosystem's intimate association with one or several material, cultural, or ecological values of local people (Menzies 1994). The composition of these "pristine" forests has been modified by long-term preferential selection of some species over others in the course of harvesting, planting, hunting, and gathering (Richardson 1990; Fellowes and Hau 1997). Many decision makers have focused narrowly on the natural aspect of forests and marginalized their importance to people. It is necessary to build a solid knowledge base about the integration of PAS and local people, in order to preserve the ecological integrity of many nature reserves in China (Harkness 1998; Herrold 1999; Coggins 2000, 2002). The aim of this article is to provide a detailed analysis of local uses of the forest in the recently established Shimentai Nature Reserve (SNR) in Yingde County, Guangdong Province, China. The specific objectives are: to quantify the intensive and extensive dimensions of local dependence on forest resources, to evaluate the impacts of past and present human activities on the forest ecosystem, to discuss a number of socioeconomic factors that affect forest preservation, and to provide decision makers with some tentative "technical fixes" so that biodiversity loss within the reserve can be minimized.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
THE SHIMENTAI NATURE RESERVE
Formally established in 1998 as a provincial-rank nature reserve, the SNR is divided into three concentric zones: core, buffer, and transition (Figure 1). The core zone prohibits human disturbance; the buffer zone allows only scientific research and monitoring; and the transition zone facilitates benign human activities such as scientific research, environmental education, agroforestry, and nature tourism.
The SNR is located in northwestern Yingde County, at approximately 24[degrees]22'-24[degrees]31' N and 113[degrees]05'-113[degrees]31' E. Covering 33,555 hectares, the reserve extends from east to west and lies about 40 kilometers by road north of Yingde Township. It is by far the largest terrestrial PA in Guangdong Province. Its significance is enhanced by its contiguity with Luokeng Nature Reserve, to its north in another county. It comprises largely forest lands of fifteen village committees (the lowest administrative unit in rural China, usually composed of a number of villages). The forest-dependent population is largely concentrated immediately outside the SNR, under the administration of Boluo, Hengshitang, Shakou, Shigutang, and Yunling Townships.
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Dominated by a subtropical monsoon climate with alternating moist and dry seasons, most rains fall between April and October and attain totals of more than 2,000 millimeters per annum. The topography is undulating, higher in the north and descending toward the south with an altitudinal range between 200 and 1,586 meters. The reserve's 262 mountains have a mean altitude of about 800 meters; the highest summit is Chuandiding at 1,586 meters. The varied topography, climate, and soil nurture a high diversity of habitats, species, and biotic communities.
A reconnaissance biological survey conducted in 1998 recorded 1,173 plant species, and the total species count could exceed 2,000 (YSRZ 1998). Twenty-four national-level registered endangered plants dwell in the forest. The notable ones include Alsophila spinulosa (spiny tree fern), Fokienia hodginsii (Fukien cypress), Tsoongiodendron odorum (Tsoong's tree), Ixonanthes chinensis (Chinese ixonanthes), Bretschneidera sinensis (Chinese bretschneidera), and Eurycorymbus cavaleriei (Cavaler eurycorymbus). The survey also identified nineteen national-level endangered animal species, and a thorough survey could find more. The outstanding members include Panthera tigris amoyensis (tiger), Python molurus bivittatus (python), and Syrmaticas ellioti (pheasant).
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
Most local residents are Hakka (Han); the minority are Yao. Agricultural practices of these two ethnic groups differ. Hakka people usually cultivate a wide range of subsistence crops, including paddy rice, sweet potato, cassava, taro, vegetables, and fruits. The main cash …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Using Upland Forest in Shimentai Nature Reserve, China*. Contributors: Xu, Steve S. W. - Author, Jim, C. Y. - Author. Journal title: The Geographical Review. Volume: 93. Issue: 3 Publication date: July 2003. Page number: 308+. © 1998 American Geographical Society. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.