Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Livelihood Issues in the communities surrounding the Nature Reserves in Guangxi, China

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Livelihood Issues in the communities surrounding the Nature Reserves in Guangxi, China

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The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is located in the southern Xinjiang of China. As located in the low altitude, the climate there is normally warm and humid. Due to the climate, Guangxi is home to 5 vegetation types, 14 vegetation subtypes and 369 plant formations[1] which makes it an essential place to preserve ecological resources. Until 2001, the provincial government has built 64 Nature Reserves which covers 16 million hectares [2]. Besides, Guangxi is a multi-ethnic autonomous region, among the whole 12 ethnic minorities, the Yao, Miao, Dong, Mulao, Maonan, Gelao, Yi, Shui, 8 national basically living in the mountainous area, and about half the population of Zhuang live in the mountainous area [3]. Therefore, mountainous area development connects tightly with Guangxi minority people's production and life. Inevitably, in the process of the establishment of protected areas, many villages were included within conservation areas and many villages border with the protected area. As the essence of problems in the boundary confirming, conflicts between the Reserves and surrounding communities began to show up. After the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region People’s Congress passed and issued “the Regulations for the Management of the Forest and Wild Animal Types of Nature Reserves in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region” in 1990[2], the governance began to strengthen the patrol of the Reserves boundaries and to help local community to develop agriculture and grazing in a way that does not damage the natural resources.

Nature Reserves

(richness of the ecological resources) The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is located in the southern Xinjiang of China, with an area of 237 thousand and 600 km2 and a population of about 47 million 510 thousand people[1]. It is located in the southeast of Eurasia, facing the North Bay. It across the middle subtropical zone, subtropical and tropical north from north to south. With this geographical location and natural conditions, it breeds a variety of biological resources and generates a biological taxa richness, therefore, biodiversity is extremely rich and colorful in Guangxi. In its Southern area, there is a distribution of tropical monsoon forest and tropical rainforest which are globally significant, besides, in the coastal areas, there are mangrove swamps and other important ecological resources. Because of Guangxi's unique natural and historical conditions, it preserved some ancient relic species.

The First Nature Reserve in Guangxi is established in 1961 and is called the Huaping Nature Reserve. By May 2010, the Guangxi government has set up 78 various natural protection zone with an area of 1 million 452 thousand and 400 hectares, accounting for about 6.14% of the total area of China. These reserves are different in emphasis, types, and level all have their own characteristics. The reserves are managed according to a series of national laws and regulations such as the forest law of the People's Republic in China. In 1990, the Guangxi People’s Republic issued “the Regulations for the Management of the Forest and Wild Animal Types of Nature Reserves in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region”[2] as the first provincial regulation to manage the reserves, and in 1992, further and specific managing regulations for specific Nature Reserves published.


The natural reserves in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are managed by the provincial forestry department. The Wildlife Protection office and Nature Reserve Management Station, which are two protection office within the forestry department, are taking responsibilities to implement the relevant international conventions and agreements, besides, directly implement the wildlife protection and management of the nature reserve in the whole autonomous region with the assistance of the protective stations set up by the departments in charge of forestry in all districts and cities. All the nature reserves have set up administrative offices and stations to take responsibilities for the construction and management work of the protected areas[2].

Among the 63 forest natural reserves in Guangxi, only a few natural reserves land are owned totally by the state[4], however, sometimes the expropriation of the community land was not done by the state by law as they establish the nature reserves. Though the laws prohibit the entry of any entities and individuals in the core zone and only allow groups for scientific research to enter the buffer zone of the reserves, actually, the state has no legal use rights of the community land within the reserves. The surrounding communities, mainly the Zhuang people are excluded from their community land and have no compensation which they deserve[5]. Even in these nature reserves without collective forest land, the use of forest land is still very complicated, because the forest land is owned by the state, but the right to use belongs to the peasant collective[4]. This situation intensified the conflicts between the community and the reserves.

Affected Stakeholders

Basically, the people living in the surrounding area are the minor nationality people, mainly the Zhuang people as they have the largest population within the affected group.

According to the survey done by Xingqun Li in 2011[3], there is one-third of the whole population in Guangxi nature reserve and the surrounding areas still living below the poverty line. In recent years, the annual net income per capita of the protected areas and the surrounding people is more than 1300 yuan, which is 70% of the annual net income of farmers in the region. Besides, the forest resources are the only source for most of them to support living and get income from.

There are a series of characteristics in the affected groups[3]: the surrounding villages is wildly distributed, therefore, it is hard for the surrounding communities to cooperate or connect with each other as there is no road for transportation, people need to walk over hills to get to another village; having a fast population growth that the current income are not enough to support them and more resources are needed for their living; poor education resources which means children need to walk for hours to get to school and many families can’t afford the school fees; low productivity due to the undeveloped facilities and lack of related knowledge; irrational use of resources that result in wasting and destructing environment resources; low level of social development because of the low level of transportation; weak infrastructure which makes security of residents a serious problem; science and cultural backwardness.


Main livelihood issues

The Zhuang people mainly focus on the basic living problems because of the low living standard for the whole community. Demand for basic developing opportunities and abilities is also concerned by some people, however, they seldom pay attention to the social welfare. The problems are shown in the following four aspects.

Short of water and poor traffic conditions are mostly concerned by the Zhuang community[3]. People rank transportation as the most serious limitation for their development. The roads in these villages are mostly unhardened dirt roads, which are narrow and have an uneven surface. There is no unified drain, so every house discharges the sewage themselves, resulting in the sewage flowing everywhere. The roads connecting the villages and the outside are also dominant by muddy roads, which bring problems to students after rains. The water shortage caused by the poor management of some community forests and dams is influencing the agricultural seriously. Moreover, using water in a poor quality as drinking water is causing health problem to the Zhuang people.

Lacking agricultural technology and other ways to get rich is another livelihood issue concerned by the Zhuang people[3]. Due to the low education level, the Zhuang people are limited in getting resources and knowledge about agriculture, besides, the poor transportation weakened the enthusiasm of the villagers to learn from the outside. Normally, the Zhuang people use traditional technologies for agricultural and cultivation and the production is at a low level. There are basically no third industries in the district, people mainly work out to get rich. At present, the income level of the villagers is lower than that of the villagers around the unprotected areas.

The community is lack of the security facilities for living, and the quality of their life is generally low[3]. The recreation facilities in the villages are usually out of time and are not maintained for a long time. As people discharge the sewage everywhere, the living condition is polluted seriously. Moreover, without a medical station in most of the villages, people need to walk for a long time to get access of medical resources, besides, the staff in the medical station are not well-organized and are facing with problems of lacking medical knowledge and facilities.

The rural education is very weak due to the low level of economic income, backward thoughts[3], low educational level and poor traffic conditions in rural areas. Only a few villages can afford to build a school and most of the people pay no attention to education and some people even don’t allow their children to go to school.

Conflicts (Fangcheng Golden Camellia Nature Reserve as the example)

The main conflicts between nature reserves and surrounding communities are similar in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The conflicts shown up in the management of the Fangcheng Golden Camellia Nature Reserve is a representative example of the common conflicts of this topic.

  • Background
Fangcheng Reserve.jpg

The Fangcheng Golden Camellia Nature Reserve established in 1994 is located in Fangcheng city. The protected area includes Naso, Hua Shi, Fu Long Lu and 13 administrative villages with 4 towns 81 village groups and the main ethnic groups there include Han, Zhuang, and Yao[6]. The community economy is dominated by agriculture and forestry. Their products mainly include rice, anise, cinnamon and other traditional agricultural production.

  • Common conflicts

1. The contradiction between the protection of resources and the development of the community economy. The establishment of the Fangcheng protected areas is to control and protect the resources within the region according to the national and provincial laws and regulations. Due to the limitation of the use of resources, the development of the local community economy is restricted[6]. Besides, the dependency on resources of the Zhuang and Yao community located in remote mountainous areas is higher because of poor transportation, lack of information, and poverty In order to support their life, they need to use resources in reserve for economic development. This has caused great pressure to the protection of the resources in the reserve.

2. The separation of rights in the land of the protected area Although through ten years’ construction and management, the boundaries of the reserve have been confirmed and each functional area has been identified, however, due to historical reasons, the use right of the protected area belongs to the local community which resulting in the separation of land use right and management right in the protected areas[6]. This also causes the conflicts between the administrative groups of the reserve and the Zhuang and Yao people easily and affecting the effectiveness of the management of protected areas.

3. Shortage of investment All along, the national and provincial finance for the reserve is insufficient. As the protection zone is located in the Fangchenggang municipal border and minority area, its economic development is relatively backward and have financial difficulties to invest more in reserve construction and community development which hindering the construction of the protected area and the development of the community[6].


Referred to several different reports within the reference, here is a conclusion of several recommendations as the solution for the conflicts.

1. Cooperation with the international environmental NGOs The natural reserves in Guangxi normally have its own administrative groups and seldom cooperate with ecological groups internationally. The cooperation can benefit the reserves in getting more information about the strategies in ecosystem conservation and even financially which is a serious problem in developing both communities and reserves.

2. Utilizing the ecological advantage to develop ecotourism As is well-protected and managed the natural reserves, most the protected area has a fascinating mountain landscape and scenery which can develop eco-tourism in a way that has less influence on the ecosystem.

3. Balance resources Through the optimized allocation of resources, to achieve the equilibrium of spatial pattern distribution, and then implement protective development[7] which can reduce the excessive utilization of resources in protected areas and gradually eliminate the g between the gap between rich and the poor in the region.

4. Strengthen the support to the community construction

  • Implementation of energy transformation project [8] to reduce the use of unsustainable energy. Promoting the use of biogas while reducing the demand for wood to produce energy can contribute to improve life quality for the community people and conserve forest resources.
  • The government is taking the procedure to improve the compensation standard of ecological public welfare forest[6] which will increase the income of local people.
  • Providing more employment opportunities in multiple aspects (especially the assistant work of conservation) for the local people is another strategy to benefit both reserves and communities. First of all, the reserves setting programs to hire the community people can contribute to its own development, besides, this also gives income to the local community and they can learn and recognize the importance of conservation during the work.
  • The managing groups in reserves should provide information about more effective and scientific method to grazing and agriculture which prevent the damage of natural resources due to over-grazing. Set a limitation of the grazing amount and time to enter the buffer zone[9] is also needed in conserving the resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wang, B., Wei, J., Yu, S., Lang J., Cai, H., & Nong, S. (2013). Research on forest ecosystem services in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Guihaia, 33, 46-51. doi:10.3969/j.isn.1000-3142.2013.01.007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Tan, W., & Wang Z., (2003). Construction and Management for Nature Reserves in Guangxi. Guizhou Science, 21, 181-184. doi:1003-6563(2003)01-2-0181-04
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Li, X. (2011). Initial Identification of People's Livelihood of Nature Reserve Communities in Guangxi. Reformation & Strategy, 27, 131-133+140. doi: 10.16331/j.cnki.issn1002-736x.2011.12.009
  4. 4.0 4.1 Li, X., & Long, Y. (2013). Study on the growth mechanism of residents' property income in nature reserve: An Empirical Study Based on the development of ethnic minorities in Guangxi Nature Reserve. Journal of Southwest University for Nationalities, 34, 31-37. Retrieved from
  5. Li, X., & Lu, K., (2007). Research on the Problem and Solution of China Natural Reverse. Jiangsu Environmental Science and Technology, 3, 76-78. doi:1004- 8642( 2007) 03- 0076- 03
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Li, F., Huang, K., & Wu, R. (2011). The relationship between resource conservation in Fangcheng Golden Camellia nature protected area and community development. Science & Technology Information, 25, 385-386. Retrieved from
  7. Zhang, Z., Hang, X., Hua, Z., Yu, C., Deng, X., & Bi, Y. (2004). Preliminary study on sustainable development index system of nature reserve and its surrounding communities. Forest Resources Management, 2, 33-36+46. doi:10.13466/j.cnki.lyzygl.2004.02.009
  8. Tan, W. (2004). Surrounding community construction of Shiwan Mountain Nature Reserve in Guangxi. Guizhou Science, 3, 92-96. Retrieved from
  9. Li, X., & Wen, J. (2012). Study on Threats and Management Strategies of Communities Surrounding Nature Reserves in Guangxi. Central South Forest Inventory and Planning, 31, 32-34+39. doi: 10.16166/j.cnki.cn43-1095.2012.01.016

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