Course:FRST370/Co-management of community forests in Wuyi Mountain, Fujian province, China

From UBC Wiki
The scenery of Wuyi Mountain

This case study explores the co-management of community forests in Wuyi mountain, Fujian province, China. The exploration of tenure transmission, stakeholders, and administrative arrangements are based on credible and abundant references. The local people get social and financial benefits through forest products by managing their community forest historically, and the main forest product is tea. The forests are managed by the government and local people together now. In order to conserve Wuyi mountain area and improve local people’s income, it was designated as a national park in recent decades. The management of community forestry is affected by administrative arrangements and policies of government at the same time. This study tries to examine how community forestry is managed by local people and government together without compromising the community rights, how the land tenure changed, and what kinds of challenges and opportunities will emerge.


Location and geography

The location of Wuyi Mountain. Google Maps

Wuyi Mountain (117° 37' 22''~118° 19' 44'' W, 27° 27' 31''~28° 04' 49'' N) is located in north part of Fujian province, adjacent to Jiangxi Province and 160 kilometres from Nanping City, and it governs 3 towns, 4 townships, 3 communities and 4 agricultural tea forests with a total area of ​​over 280200 hectares.[1] It is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Fujian Province of the People's Republic of China. It is now managed by Nanping City and was excised from the original Chong'an County in 1989. The county is located in the city and is named after the Wuyi Mountain in the territory. It is the only city named after the famous mountain in Fujian Province.

The Wuyi Mountain National park (National AAAAA level tourist attraction) is also located in this city, and it is the best protected and most abundant ecosystem in the same latitude of the Earth, with 2,527 plant species and nearly 5,000 species of wild animals.[1] The forests area is 237460 hectares, including 5030 hectares shrub, 20000 hectares primeval forest, and 10000 hectares tea forest. And the forest canopy is 78.4%, which occupies a significant part of the total area. [1]

History and cultures

Wuyi Mountain is famous for the scenery of mountain and its tea cultures. It has many many peaceful towering mountains and calm lakes over thousands of years, which provide abundant natural resources for local people to survive, and the tea product is the most important one. In the Tang Dynasty, local people hold the activities called Shout mountain and Open mountain in the traditional tea forests. During the ceremony, all the people shout out, "Tea sprouts! Tea sprouts!". This ceremony still exists in the local community, and it is held in every spring. [2] Impression Dahongpao is a kind of tea product in Wuyi Mountain, which is popular in China. Dahongpao means red robe in Chinese. Thousand years ago, the tea products didn't have a specific name in Wuyi Mountain. One day, one scholar went to the capital to take the imperial examination, and he got sick when he passed Wuyi Mountain. The local people gave him two tea products, and he recovered. After that, he got the number one in the imperial examination, and he also used this tea product to heal the emperor's disease. The emperor awarded him a red robe. Finally, he came back to Wuyi Mountain and put this red robe on the tea tree. Then, all the tea products in Wuyi Mountain had this name 'Impression Dahongpao.'[2]

Tenure arrangements

The tenure arrangements in Wuyi Mountain are along with the changes in tenure arrangements in China, and there are some slight differences. In order to make the tenure arrangements clear, the history of tenure arrangements in China is essential. Tenure arrangements in China are more complicated because China has a long history, and the tenure arrangements emerged thousands of years ago. There are mainly three significant phases in the whole changes of tenure arrangement from ancient times to the present. In Phase II and Phase III, the changes of tenure rights are similar to Naidu Village case study in Yunnan Province because all of those changes emerged resulting from changes in Chinese policies about tenure arrangements.

Phase I: from ancient times to 1949

Figure 1. The example of title deed.

Before 1949, China was always a constitutional monarchy, and the emperor, who has all kinds of rights, is sovereign in the country. As for the tenure arrangements, the emperor, bigwigs, and other local landowners (the most powerful and rich people in a small place, like an emperor) had the legal rights on the lands.[3] In Wuyi Mountain, the local landowners owned all kinds of forests and other lands, and the local people who depend on the forests only had the rights to use. It means they didn't have the ownership of those areas.

In addition, the title deeds (Figure 1.) as ownership of land emerged in the Song dynasty, which enhanced and protected the local people's ownership of their forests and other lands. [3] However, the title deeds were only promoted in a limited area of China, and they were most popular among local landowners, not all the local and indigenous people. There were also many traditional tea forest areas and some other forest lands without title deeds. Compared to those areas with title deeds, the rest of forests areas still occupied a large percent, which means the tenure arrangements for local people were chaotic.

Phase II: 1950-1978

  • 1950-1952: When the 'Land Reform Law of the People's Republic of China' enacted by the Chinese government in 1950. The local people had rights on the barren lands, mountains, forests, farmland or other lands surrounded their village legally. Moreover, the lands occupied by bureaucrats and other local landowners are nationalized[4].[5] After that, people not only have the rights to use, utilize, cut, and sell on community forests, but also they become owners of those forest areas. [6]In Wuyi Mountain, this law also guaranteed the tenure rights of local people. They have both legal and customary rights in their tea forests and other community forests.
  • 1953-1956: 'Cooperative Movement' deprived the local people's rights of their land, and they were allowed to retain the land surrounded their houses. All the rest of the lands became the collective forests owned by the government legally.[4][5][6] In Wuyi Mountain, the local people had to follow the aims of government when they utilize those tea forests and other community forests. They didn't have the rights to decide what kinds of benefits they can get from community forests. They were only allowed to use community forests to meet the aims of government, but they had rights in those areas surrounded their houses. Although those areas are limited, they still got some benefits from individual trees in those areas.
  • 1957-1978: 'Great Leap Forward'happened in 1957, all the lands are nationalized, and this was more severe than the 'Cooperative Movement.' After this movement, local people didn't have any rights in their community and lands. The income and benefits of forest areas belonged to the commune of the labor group and government.[4][5] Since 1960 another movement called 'movement of people's Commune' was similar to the previous movement.[6] In Wuyi Mountain, local people had no chance to utilize their community forests and no benefits from their tea forests products. All the benefits from all kinds of forests had become the property and income of the government.

Phase III: 1979-present

  • 1979-1991: Forestry 'Three-fix' reformed the forestry property right system and clarified the boundary of all kinds of forests, and it divided forests into household plot forests, collective forests, and state-own forests.[4][5][6]In Wuyi Mountain, every local people had the ownership of a small part of the whole community forests. They also utilized and sold tea products from traditional tea forests, which improved their incomes. More than that, the committee of Wuyi Mountain had the ownership of collective forests, and every person in Wuyi Mountain had equal rights in collective forests. The state-owned all the rest of community forests except household plot forests and collective forests, also owned the barren forests lands, lakes and other natural resources.
  • 1992-1998: The barren forests lands owned by the state were auctioned because the state failed to make good use of the forest resources in those lands. Only the use rights of those land were auctioned, and the state still has the ownership of those forests.[4][5]In other words, people and committees of the local place had a chance to lease those state-own forests. In Wuyi Mountain, people had a chance to improve their income from traditional tea forests by leasing extra parts of the state-own forests. They had a good position to have more traditional forests rather than a small part of household plot forests.
  • 2003-now: After 2003, the forest property right system became better than it was 50 years ago through the exploration of the Chinese government. Finally, the local people had legal and customary rights on their household plot forests and collective forests, but the collective forests emerged a lot of problems during the past decades, including unequal distribution of collective forests and inefficient allocation methods. A new policy came out by the government, which was called 'community to household.'[4] This policy aimed to transfer a part of collective forests to the household plot forests. On the other hand, the government provides local people with other good policies in the economic aspect. The most important policy was forests loan, and the tenure rights of their community forests can be used to apply for loan from the bank. [5]

Administrative arrangements

Figure 2. Forestry administrative system of Wuyi Mountain. (Source: Yanbo Liu, 2019)

Forestry administrative management systems in China have already developed about 50 years, and it has been implemented in many Chinese provinces and cities. Also, there are many successful examples of forestry administrative systems. One is the Naidu Village case study. In Yunnan province, the local people in Naidu Village got more and more rights and benefits through the development of forestry administrative system. Similarly, the forestry administrative management system in Wuyi Mountain (Figure 2.) developed as well, and the structure of the forestry administrative management system is the same as it in Naidu Village at the national and provincial levels. As for the city, county and village level, there are some differences.

In terms of forestry administrative management in Wuyi Mountain, State Forestry Bureau is the highest government organization. It governs all the department branches about forestry and sets national forestry strategies all over the country. The state-owned forests in Wuyi Mountain directly managed by state-owned forestry enterprises. [7]The rest of forests mainly managed by Fujian Forestry Bureau. It divides these forests into several parts, and allocates them to the city level Forestry Bureau, like Forestry Bureau of Nanping. Similarly, Forestry Bureau of Wuyi Mountain manages forests allocated by Forestry Bureau of Nanping at the county level. In provincial, city, county and local levels of forestry administrative layers, they all have the rights to adjust the policies and plans based on the unique situations, and this is a good way for these layers to meet the national strategies of State Forestry Bureau. More than that, the five offices in the Forestry Bureau of Wuyi Mountain are responsible for different objectives in the following table.[8]

Offices Responsibility
Forest resource office Natural conservation of forests
Forest nursery planning office Planning and succession of forests
Forest development office Setting objectives in financial incomes of forests
Forest rights office Solving the conflicts about the tenure rights
Fire control office Predicting the forest fire and improving local people's awareness

The five offices manage village committees and individual villagers in different aspects together, and they can provide village committees and villagers with some supports from the government. The village committee elected by all the villagers and every villager has equal rights to the election. So both of them have some influences on each other. In the management system, the village committee utilizes the collective forests, and the individual villagers utilize the household plot forests. They have access to sell their products from their own forests. As for the collective forests in the village, all of them have the rights to join the decision-making, such as making the price of tea products and other forestry products.

Affected Stakeholders


An affected stakeholder is defined as any person, group of persons or entity that is subject to the effects of the activities in a locally customarily-claimed forest area.[9]

Individual household

Individual households are the most affected stakeholders because they are directly affected by community tea forests. They depend on the tea products from tea forests as the only income. Also, they use the falling branches as firewood and some plants as medicine in the forests. The community forests are the only source of their life. So all of them highly care about the forests. And they have medium power to manage their forests because they have the right to talk with the village committee and five offices directly.

Village committee

The village committee is another affected stakeholder. It is created by individual households, which is a good organization for them to manage collective forests together. The income of village committee by managing collective forests would be used to build and improve its public infrastructure in the village. The village committee highly depends on those community forests by selling the forestry products. Also, it has high power for the forests because it makes decisions for their community forests.

Interested Outside Stakeholders


An interested stakeholder refers to any person, group of persons, or entity that has shown an interest, or is known to have an interest in the activities of a forest area.[9]

Forestry Bureau of Wuyi Mountain

The Forestry Bureau of Wuyi Mountain ensures that the stated national laws are followed to ensure the protection of the first and its natural heritage. Some of the laws include, Forestry law passes in 1998, the Environmental Protection Law and Regulations on Nature Reserves law, and the Cultural Relic Protection Law all passed in 2002, and the Law on the Protection of Wildlife passed in 2004, and the Scenic Areas Ordinance passed on 2006. [10]


Wuyi Mountain is a tourist attraction site not only for tea lovers but also for the outstanding number of various ancient relict species. The beauty of the Nine Bend River, with different types of Temples and monasteries providing development and spread of neo-Confucianism. The religious movement has been influential since the 11th Century in East Asia Cultures.  Another great archeological site is an Administrative capital that was built during the Han Dynasty along the Chengcun.  In addition, new and iconic species have been located along with the boundaries site in a larger population. The rate of tourism has become so high that it has become a growing threat, due to Tourism Infrastructure development. [11] 

Tea products consumers and Companies

The Wuyi region is valuable to both tea companies and also consumers. History record shows that more than 200 types of rock tea are found in Wuyi region, with the most famous tea type called the Big Red Robe ( Da Hong Pao).[12] In addition, for people who care about teas the Wuyi region holds different Tea competitions. They include Raw Tea Competition, cross-Strait Competition, and the Tianxin Tea Competition and many more. The best times for such competition is during the autumn after the Tea has gone under primary processing during the springtime, roasting, fine processing, and storage in summer. [13]

Tea culture researchers

Wuyi Mountain not only provides different types of teas, but it also provides significant cultural heritage in the tea rituals.  One of them is tea sacrifice that belonged during the Yuan Dynasty during the Yuchayuan period. The existence of tea in the Wuyi Mountain dates back into the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty. In addition, some part of the mountain contains an imperial Tea Garden that was produced during the 13th century of the Yuan Dynasty for the emperors. Among the top products the famous Red Robe tea also has a historical and cultural heritage behind it.[13]  All the tea products are provided with the name “Impression Dahongpao” One day, one scholar went to the capital to take the imperial examination, and he got sick when he passed Wuyi Mountain. The local people gave him two tea products, and he recovered. After that, he got the number one in the imperial examination, and he also used this tea product to heal the emperor’s disease. The emperor awarded him a red robe. Finally, he came back to Wuyi Mountain and put this red robe on the tea tree. Then, all the tea products in Wuyi Mountain had this name ‘Impression Dahongpao.[2]


Aims and Intentions

Aim of the forestry management is to protect of the Mountain Wuyi the cultural and natural heritage of the Fujian Province.


By 2003 the forestry property has improved as local people have legal rights on their lands, and collective forest and the government have provided various legal rights about the lands to the local people. It has promoted tourism attraction and the protection of some of the province's archeological sites, an example the Han City. Currently Wuyi Mountain is among the outstanding subtropical forests in the world, as it is intact and has combination of the Chinese subtropical forest and the Southern Chinese Rainforest with high plant diversity.[10] It is home to different unique flora and fauna, with more ancient relict plant species being protected and growing in the area. In addition, it has led to decrease in China's wood product exports.

Critical Issues

China’s wood industry consists of main sawmills, woodchips processing, and wood based-panel producers. The only way the industry was able to survive and succeed was due to the high rate of supply for timber, which is found from nearby forests. The industries were conducting these activities under the control of the provincial department of forestry and their affiliated organization, but the forest was losing a lot of trees. Hence wood products were banned for being exported leading and reduction of the harvest from the natural forest. [14]But this has led to the stakeholders’ to face negative economic consequences of not using wood forest products, especially timber.[15] In addition, some of the complaints recorded by cooperative members of the Forestry Farmers and non-cooperatives is the lack of sufficient water sources for the local residents. And also lack better management of the regional species diversity that helps in providing species source for natural management. A majority of the local members lack enough proper education, information, and publicity about forestry management, hence making it hard for the farmers to understand the importance of forestry policies.[16]


One of the social actors is the tourist who holds the power of ensuring the Wuyi Mountain project survives. As through their visitation, they are able to ensure that the Mountain gains popularity both for the locals and also the government, which is beneficial as more staff will be employed to care for it and also the government will have enough money to invest in its protection. Both international and local tourists help in spreading the cultural heritage of the province.

Other stakeholders from the forestry farmer’s cooperatives, non-cooperatives members, and country level-forestry administration have the power of knowing what is affecting the locals and farmers and the issues they face every day. Their powers are being utilized well as they have come up with solutions to the critical issues affecting the project. An example, on the issue of lack of proper education and information to locals about forestry policies they recommend township forestry stations personnel to train forestry members with help from the forestry stations.[16]

The local tea consumers and tea companies have power in the rate at which they buy the tea and their dependency on the types of teas produced from the area. In additions some of the locals use forest products as medicine, hence the survival of the forestry project is vital to them.


Despite the project providing positive results, there still some challenges being faced by the local people such as poverty levels, the risk of the community losing their culture due to globalization. But their solutions that can help, they include;

  • For forestry management projects such as one in Wuyi Mountain, can work through Co-management of the forest resources. And its success or failure, more than just the soundness of the co-management of forest resources is needed. It is also recommended for the different stakeholders to work together efficiently, with other major NGOs or the Government, leading to co-managers getting support from the local power actors. [17]
  • Promote Non-Wood forest products, hence benefiting the local farmers. This will also lead to an increase in forest resources hence benefiting the ecological environment. In addition, the locals can benefit economically as the production value of plantations and the collection of economic NWFPs in 2006 was 255 billion RMB, which is four times that of timber logging. Based on this proportion, by 2020, the net production value of plantation and collection of economic forest products will reach 561 billion RMB and the net production value of NWFPs15 will reach 740 billion RMB.[15]
  • What makes Wuyi Mountain unique is its traditional culture, especially the tea culture. That has been criticized by different scholars with the plan of trying to revive the tea culture and sacrifices.[2] And with global changes this can be really hard and by reviving these traditional cultural practices and beliefs the locals will be able to connect with their roots, attract tourists, and also ensure cultural development.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Zeng, H. (2004). "The spatial structure analysis of forest resources based on digital GIS and statistic data". China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House. 2004(08): 453–454.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Zhang, Y. (2011). "The research of traditional tea cultures in Wuyi Mountain". Heilongjiang University. 2011(05): 31–33.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bi, M.; Cao, J.; Yang, X. (2016). "A new cognition of historical land annexation and its implications for land property rightsystem reform in modern time". Journal of Ningbo University. 29(3): 74–77.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Cheng, L. (2013). "Analysis of historical changes of China's forest tenure policy and its prospect". Agricultural economic outlook. 9(03): 35–38.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Zhong, M. (2015). "Research on foresters' satisfaction evaluation on reform of the collective forest rights system in Fujian Province". Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. 2015(04): 15–18.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Su, P.; Qi, S.; Li, Y.; Jin, M. (2018). "Comparative study on collective forest tenure reform and water rights system reform in China". Journal of Resources and Ecology. 9(04): 445–446.
  7. Han, F.; Gao, Y.; Zhao, R. (2017). "Analyzing the Issues of state-owned forest farm reform: taking the provincial state-owned forest farm in Fujian as an example". Issues of Forestry Economics. 37(5): 40–42.
  8. Fujian Province Nanping Forestry Bureau (2014). "Organization setting".
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bulkan, J (2019) Lecture 4 affected vs interesting stakeholders. University of British Columbia. 2-6.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Mount Wuyi". 2017.
  11. "2017 Conservation Outlook". November 9, 2017.
  12. Cui, Nan (June 2, 2016). "Wuyi's Rock Tea: Treasure Mountain".
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Wuyi Mountains: Birth Place of Unique Teas". January 28, 2019.
  14. Durst, Patrick; et al. (2001). "Forests out of bounds: impacts and effectiveness of logging bans in natural forests in Asia-Pacific" (PDF). Explicit use of et al. in: |first= (help)
  15. 15.0 15.1 "People's Republic Of China Forestry Outlook Study" (PDF). 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Policy assessment and pilot application of participatory forest management in Fujian Province" (PDF). 2012.
  17. Zhu, Ting; et al. (January 2014). "Co-management implementation in forested national reserves: Contradicting cases from China". ScienceDirect. 38: 72–80. Explicit use of et al. in: |first= (help)

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Course:FRST370.