Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Industrial and community forest management of Torreya Grandis in Zhejiang Province, China

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The industry and community forest management of Chinese Torreya in Zhejiang, China

torreya grandis

Long ago in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, the industry of Chinese Torreya has been an important way for local people to build up family fortunes. Before the 1950s, local residents had their rights to forests to develop their Torreya nut business industry[1]. In the 1980s, people communes were replaced by household responsibility system. To develop the industry of Torreya nuts and the local economy, villagers in Fengqiao village near Kuaiji Mountain tried various methods. However, although the quantity of Torreya products increased rapidly, the quality declined[2]. Villagers grew female Torreya trees only and logged timbers of male trees which leads to the imbalance of female and male proportion of Torreya enhanced the vulnerability of facing natural disasters and insect plagues[3]. Additionally, as small-peasant economy management system still dominated the economic development in Zhuji, the role community plays was less significant. Moreover, tourism in Kuaiji Mountains became an important economic development which was a threat to local communities’ development. Both government and local communities are making efforts to switch the unsuitable management system and consult with villagers who rely upon the industry for existence and development.


Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China

Shaoxing, is a prefecture-level city in eastern Zhejiang province, China. The Kuaiji Mountains, one of the most famous mountains in Shaoxing Zhejiang, China, are 100 kilometers long with the highest peak at 354.7 meters. With abound forest resources, as early as 2000 years ago, the ancestors in Shaoxing have cultivated a fine strain of wild Torreya–Chinese Torreya by artificial selection and grafting. Nowadays, it has formed an area of about 400 square kilometers of ancient Torreya group in Kuaiji Mountains providing various products including nuts, timber, fuel woods[1]. The ancient Torreya group in Kuaiji Mountains was identified as globally important agricultural heritage protection pilot unit by UNESCO in 2013[4].

Moreover, with more than 2500-year history, Shaoxing is a cultural and ecotourism city with the characteristics of the waterside of the south of the Yangtze River in China. It has four national forest parks, four provincial forest parks as well as eleven municipal forest parks associated with more than 10 hundred hectares of national and provincial ecological forests.


Before the 1950s because of turmoil and wars, the agriculture and economy in China were not managed in a very systematic way. The ownership of most forests in China belonged to households for either commercial or subsistence production of timber, fuelwood, food, and medicines[1]. Besides, with long-term history, the forests offer cultural and spiritual values[1]. Local residents had their rights to forests to develop their Torreya industry as passed from ancestors.

responsibility system based on household

During the period from the 1950s to 1980s at the beginning of the establishment of the People's Republic of China, China has experienced a long period of turmoil and war with a sharp social contradiction and a backward economic level. The government carried out a large scale of urban industrial and commercial socialist transformation and rural land collectivization. However, the Great Leap Forward and People's Commune caused that the original economic system had been destroyed. Private lands were expropriated, private land ownership had been eliminated by the commune movement, including ownership of forest lands[1]. As a result, two different kinds of ownership generated: 58% of forest land was under the ownership and managing authority of collective farms, administrative villages or production groups, and 42% was owned by the State[1]. In the 1960s, it was opened to allow a few households the use rights to small parcels of forest in mountainous regions[1]. However, with the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, everything went back to the original point and the liberalized rights were ended[1]. During this long period, the agricultural output value had been greatly reduced.

1980s people communes were replaced by household responsibility system. Forests were owned by the State, communities, and individuals representatively with decollectivization and decentralization of forest use and management.

Tenure arrangements

Tenure arrangement is similar among provinces in China. Like Naidu village in Yunnan province, tenure changed a lot since the 1950s[5]. Local people’s customary rights to the forest were regarded as a higher level than the government. Local villagers were automatic decision makers. Lands are regulated by customary, unwritten practices which are handed down to generations. However, in the beginning of 1950s, collectivization of China was carried out. Local people don’t have rights to make decisions. They became users and workers only.

GIAHS Pilot Site 8: Shaoxing Torreya Grandis cv. Merrillii Community, Zhejiang

In 1982, with the process of reform and opening, communes were disbanded and replaced by responsibility system based on household contract fixing farm output quotas for each household, being responsible for profit and loss. The government decided to conduct similar reforms on forest land called collective forest tenure system involving two different tenure arrangements with equitable distribution of forest land to individual households[1]. The two tenure arrangements were called the “two hills” system. On self-maintenance hills or freehold hills, individual rural households had the private rights to use forests for subsistence. Usufruct rights were guaranteed for the long term, usually without limit of contract period which could be inherited. While on responsibility hills, households in the village or the village production group contracted to use and manage collective forests. The contract periods were limited ranging from 5 to 15 years in the initial phase and in the mid-1990s, they can be prolonged for up to 70 years under a law confirmed[1]. In some regions of southwestern China, the “two hills” system was modified around 1990 to include a third “hill” which was contract hills of individual households by contracts granted through market mechanisms[1]. Forests in Zhejiang were divided into state-owned forests, collective forests and individual-owned forests with a certificate of forest rights given by county or higher-level government. Any community or individual who wants to log timbers must apply for cutting licenses to the forestry administration department.

Affected Stakeholders

• Harvesters of Chinese Torreya with the objective that enhance the production of Torreya in a sustainable way. They have rights to access to go into the forests on Kuaiji Mountains at prescribed times and use rights for subsistence and sale. With contract certificates, they have exclusion and alienation rights to prevent outsiders’ access.

• Local people relying on other industry for subsistence such as agriculture, wine-making industry. These people will be influenced if forests are destroyed and other residents turn into agriculture or other industry to compete for resources.

Affected Stakeholders Relative Objectives Power & interests
Harvesters of Chinese Torreya enhancing the production of Torreya, sustainable managements high interests, high power
Local people relying on other industry agriculture development, enhancing wine production, more income from tourism high interests, medium power

Interested Outside Stakeholders

• Buyers or customers of Torreya nuts in Zhejiang to get high-quality products. apart from Zhejiang, There are several other provinces that have well-managed Torreya nut industry, if the forests in Kuaiji Mountains are not sustainable anymore, they have various choices to get high-quality products.

• County government who wants to develop tourism in Kuaiji Mountains. County government has rights to issue and confirm land contract management warrants and certificate of forest rights. Moreover, they examine and approve adjustment scheme of local communities.

• Agency or managers associated with local communities to help them develop sustainable management and get payment or income from the government. They are authorized by the government body and have no direct connections with forests.

Interested Outside Stakeholders Relative Objectives Power & interests
Buyers or customers of Torreya nuts get high-quality products medium interests, low power
County government develop tourism in Kuaiji Mountains, protect ecosystems medium interests, high power
Agency or managers help them develop sustainable management and get payment or income from the government low interests, medium power


• there are still some residences considering that economic rewards were the primary concern and motivation to manage forests[6]. The production and management of most enterprises are still pursuing short-term and microcosmic benefits. They consider much of the immediate interests and consider little about environmental protection and long-term interests of society. Although some enterprises have realized that sustainable management can open up a new market, but due to the huge cost, there are certain risks and they dare not act rashly

• Lack of protection methods of seedlings with mass logging becomes a huge weakness when villagers carrying out their Torreya planting. It is mostly related to grow seedlings habit, only mature tree grafting technology, with slow speed and limited resources[3]. After starting grafting seedlings, the propagation coefficient is low, which mainly presented in only using of elongated shoots as scion branches and low utilization rate[3]. Moreover, pile grafting technology is complicated with slow speed and short seedling grafting seasons which result in high cost[3].

• Imbalance of female and male proportion of Torreya enhanced the vulnerability of facing natural disasters and insect plagues because of logging[4]. In recent years, various production units collect pollens each year from other fields for artificial pollination, for the convenience of pollen collection, villagers cut branches of many male Torreya trees which were shaved, causing the male tree resources destroyed[3]. Additionally, to get timber and protect the female trees, villagers logged weak male trees blindly for years. The Kuaiji mountain had a period of time with the extremely poor economy, tall and beautiful wooden male Torreya wood carving was a good material which was cut down to sell as a collective income[4].

• Aging of trees with a high percentage of low yield individual trees caused by blind excessive applying fertilizer[3]. With an abundant of high concentration of fertilizer, the phenomenon dehydration of roots increases rapidly, which leads to acceleration of trees aging, abscission of fruits and defoliation.

• Forestry administration attaches importance to forests more than households, opportunities for household participation is limited[1]. Households lose not only their interest in community forestry industry and also their awareness of being a group. Focusing more on their own interest lead to ignoring what exactly benefits the whole community.

• Inflexible legislation and policy cannot adapt well to the diversity and rapid social transformation in China. Administration of Shaoxing city attaches great importance to the ancient Torreya group which is an important agricultural cultural heritage protection. The government is to promote the protection of important agricultural heritage declaration globally, however, the formal specialized agencies of group protection and management of ancient Torreya has not been established yet, some local heritage protection work is lack of strong leadership, work is hard to carry out orderly[4].


• Green marketing with implementing marketing combining strategy innovation. In the marketing activities, enterprises should not only fully meet the needs of consumers realizing the profit goals of companies but also pay full attention to the balance of natural ecology[7]. Green marketing is the inevitable and crucial choice of the sustainable development which caters to modern consumption demand. Globally, the volume of trade of green products marketing reached $2000-3000 at the beginning of the 1990s[7]. According to the World Bank estimation, in 2000, the global green products trade amounted to $600 billion. Moreover, green marketing is an important measure to break through technical barriers.

• Decentralization can be a way to reach a dynamic balance between decentralizing and centralizing forces[6]. Decentralization of forest management in China is widely known as forest tenure reform. The new forest tenure reforms were introduced in 2003 expected to encourage farmers to manage their lands in a more sustainable and responsible way[6]. The reforms were supported by several mechanisms including forest tenure certification and forestry property markets based on the Forest Principles developed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992[6]. It also presents the increasingly important management in China–sustainable forest management (SFM)[8].

• With the help of forestry bureau in Shaoxing county, Jidong town was in the full implementation of high-yield technology of Torreya grandis with Generalization of management of water and fertilizer, artificial assisting pollination and extermination of disease and insect pest in the fruiting period[3]. Strengthening the existing forest management is the main measure of increasing Torreya grandis yield rapidly. In cultivation, so as to ensure the safety standards of the products, fertilizing organic manure, biological manure and non-toxic and efficient pesticides should be added in accordance with the requirements of green foods[3].

• Expanding cultivation and resource multiplication and carrying out industrial seedling rearing[3]. In the flowering or fruit period, implementing treatment with hormone or chemical spray can significantly increase fruits setting rate[9]. Prohibit hacking Torreya male plants and ensure balanced pollination of the female plants[9].


There are some recommendations, as far as I am concerned, may be effective for improving the problems. After reviewing most of literature resources, it is hard to find materials that enhance the importance of communities.

• Villagers and residents should keep in mind that the strength of communities is greater than the power of individuals. They should participate actively in the construction of community culture.

• Local communities, to enhance and keep the interests of local villagers, should hold regular meetings and festivals and invite professional foresters to have workshops with visual media to improve the understanding of local people about the sustainability of forests.

• Forestry Bureau of Shaoxing county should improve implementation of national and regional laws in line with local conditions. Being careful about different districts with their own situations, various conflicts and management should be taken into consideration.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Liu, J. & Yuan, J. (2007). China's Boom in Household Management of Forests. Unasylva, 212(58), 19–22.
  2. Tong, P. Z. (2003). Current Production, Problem and Countermeasure of Chinese Torreya in Zhuji. Economic Forest Researches, 21(4), 148-150. doi:10.14067/j.cnki.1003-8981.2003.04.050.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Li, Z. J., Cheng, X. J., Dai, W. S., Jing, B. H., & Wang, A. G. (2004). History and Status and Development of Torreya Grandis in Zhejiang Province. Journal of Zhejiang Forestry College, 21(4), 471-474.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Wang, B., Chen, J. Y., Min, Q. W., Bai, Y. Y., Yuan, Z., Xu & Y. T. (2013). Discussion on Conservation and Development Strategy of Agricultural Heritage Systems of Ancient Torreya Grandis in Kuaiji Mountain. Ancient and Modern Agriculture, 1, 105-111.
  5. Menzies, N. K. (2007) Jozani Forest, Ngezi Forest, and Misali Island, Zanzibar. Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber: Communities, Conservation, and the State in Community-based Forest Management, (pp. 30–49). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Chen, J. & Innes, J.L. (2013). The Implications of New Forest Tenure Reforms and Forestry Property Markets for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification in China. Journal of Environmental Management 129, 206–215.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Cheng, Y. X., & Liu, D.D. (2004). The Research on Green Marketing Tactics of Characteristic Nut and Fruit in Zhejiang Province. East China Forest Management, 18(1), 14-19.
  8. Liu, J., & Innes, J. L. (2015). Participatory Forest Management in China: Key Challenges and Ways Forward. International Forestry Review, 17(4), 477-484. doi:10.1505/146554815817476512
  9. 9.0 9.1 Qin, X. C., & Li, J. H. (2012). Study on Favorable Environment and Cultivation Techniques of Torreya grandis cv. Merrillii. Horticulture & Seed, 3, 3-5.

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Course:FRST270.