Strengthening the Effectiveness of Conservation by Involving the Local Community in Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve
Huiling’s study addresses the issues stemming from the top-down management and inadequate resources of Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve in China by seeking ways to involve the local community to participate in co-managing conservation and community development endeavors. The park lacks a management plan, has very limited staff, poor work equipment, inadequate levels of training, and a minuscule operational budget. It also suffers from severe degradation due to overgrazing, engineering damage, climate change, and illegal mining and poaching. In order to perform research and create a community conservation project, Huiling used funding from UNDP-GEF to create a three-way partnership between the local government, local community, and outside experts, including Future Generations China. Before starting conservation activities, Huiling conducted community participatory research in the form of household interviews, semi-structured interviews, participatory rural appraisal, and focus group discussions. From what he discovered through his research, Huiling makes the following recommendations to create a conservation program for the park: 1) build from successes, such as the community ecological patrols to prevent poaching and the use of traditional culture to educate poachers, future generations, and outsiders on the importance of preserving wild animals and the land, 2) form a three-way partnership between the local community, local government, and outside experts, 3) make decisions based on evidence rather than anecdotes, and 4) focus on behavior changes in community members to encourage the protection of the land.