Course:FRST370/National Nature Reserve, Changbai Mountain,Jilin Province, China: Forest Management and Tourism

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Changbai Mountain view.jpg

Changbai Mountain is an important nature reserve in China and significant tourism resource in Jilin Province. Changbai Mountain has always been a natural treasure-house for the living of the people in the Northeast. Various cultures related to Changbai Mountain have been formed in the production and life of generations, such as the "ginseng picking culture" and grazing culture, which Changbai Mountain people are proud of. Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, the management of Changbai Mountain was constantly changing, and the plundering of the colonists led to Changbai Mountain's resources becoming depleted. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the management of Changbai Mountain finally returned to the hands of the Chinese people. The central government began to attach importance to the resource management of Changbai Mountain. However, deforestation still exists. To prevent the destruction of forest resources, the Chinese government established the Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve. In the district, the management method has gradually changed from the government's full power over management to the government combined with the people's cooperative management, and the forest is mainly managed by the local committee. While the residents' participation in forest management is relatively low. In recent decades, the beautiful natural scenery and unique local culture of Changbai Mountain have attracted many people for sightseeing. The tourism industry has gradually flourished. The local government has seized the opportunity to vigorously develop tourism resources and gradually occupy the cultivated land of residents. The development of the provincial tourism industry gives priority to high GDP, which diminish the consideration of the environment and the well-being of residents. It may be detrimental to sustainable development in a long term.

Key Words

Changbai Mountain; forest management; tourism development; local community; profits



Changbai Mountain(E 121°08′–134°00′, N 38°46′–47°30′) is the highest mountain range in the eastern margin of Eurasia. It is located in the southeast of Jilin Province, adjacent to the border between China and North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). Changbai Mountain is the birthplace of Songhua River, Tumen River and Yalu River, among which Songhua River originates from Tianchi (a lake name that means sky pond) of Changbai Mountain[1]. In 1961, Changbai Mountain National Nature Reserve was established.


In the early Qing Dynasty(1636-1912), the rulers were more enlightened, which made the country prosperous, and the population grew rapidly. Many farmers entered the Changbai Mountain area to reclaim land and woodland, but they conflicted with the locals, and raised serious social problems.

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, Russia and Japan looted the forest resources in the northeast region, causing major damage to the forest resources in Changbai Mountain.

In the early years of the Republic of China, there were warlords fighting in the country and imperialist aggression. Human activities exceeded the tolerance of the forest environment, and the forest resources in the area suffered severe damage[3].

Changbai mountain view.jpg

Regional settings

The Changbai Mountain feature a group of dormant volcanoes and the region has a subtropical continental monsoon climate. The mean annual temperature ranges from − 7 to 3 °C, and the annual precipitation increases with elevation from 700 to 1400 mm[4]. The topography of the mountain range includes hilltops, valleys, basins, and hillsides with steep slopes (varying 0-73°). Elevation ranges from about 410 to 2740 m above the sea level and decreases gradually from the southeast to the northwest. There are four vegetation zones that correspond to vertical soil zones including the alpine tundra zone (above 2000 m), the sub-alpine Betula ermanii forest (1800–2000 m), the coniferous forest zone (1100–1800 m), and the mixed forest of broadleaved and Korean pine forest (500–1100 m).

Natural resources

Abundant peat resources are available in the Changbai Mountains due to the cold wet conditions and the topographical and geological features[4]. In Changbai Mountain region, peat started to accumulate and expand in the early Holocene. The peatlands were accumulating at high rates and contains various types, including widespread eutrophic herb marshes in the gullies and valleys and in the depressions of the terraces, and some mesotrophic and oligotrophic moss peatlands on the shaded hillside and lava plateau[4]. However, agricultural expansion has converted most of the valley mires into rice paddies and upland fields. The Changbai Mountains contain substantial deposits of gold, iron, copper, magnesite, graphite, and various rare metals.

Tenure arrangements

History of Tenure Arrangement

1896-1930 Czarist Russia monopolized Northeast Forestry The original Pinus Koraiensis forest on the north slope and east of Changbai Mountain was seriously damaged because of the predatory logging by Czarist Russia. About 60 million m3 volume of timber resource were consumed, including precious tree species like Korean pine. Transportation of timber was limited by water carriage[5].
1931-1945 Japanese Imperialist monopolized Northeast Forestry Land transportation for timber began. The scope of logging has gradually expanded. During 15 years, the forest area in the northeast forest area decreased by 18 %[5].
1945-1949 Initial post-liberation period Forest became national property. Timber were for military and infrastructure use.
1945-1949 Initial post-liberation period Forest became national property. Timber were for military and infrastructure use.
1949-1952 Land reform In 1950, the 'Land Reform Law of the People's Republic of China' enacted. Bureaucrat - capital were collected as state property. And the government allocated farmers the barren lands, mountains, forests, farmland or other lands surrounded their village[6]. People had rights to use, utilize, cut, and sell on community forests.
1952-1956 Cooperative Movement Local people were only allowed to keep the land near their house, the rest of it was collective forests owned by the government. People owned the tree and resources in their land, but they did not have the right to decide what to plant. The private property of forest lands was forbidden and Sheyou Lin emerged as community property.
1957-1978 Great Leap Forward All forest lands were collective. People did not have any rights in their territories. All the benefits were collective and distributed evenly. This caused severe damage to economy.
1978-1991 Forestry 'Three-fix' Forests were divided into three categories: household plot forests, collective forests, and state-own forests. People got some rights in household plot forest but the government limited the volume of logging, so their rights were limited[5].


The government auctioned forest land The purchasers only had the right to manage, the state still has the ownership of those forest land. The forest lands were rented for a relatively long term.
2003-now 'community to household’ policy This policy intends to transfer a part of collective forests to the household plot forests in order to protect local residents' rights.

Big Event in 2000

National and local governments have instituted a plan with multiple management objectives for sustainable forest development called the Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) based on Classification-based forest management[7]. The aim of the NFCP: To balance timber production and ecological benefits of forest ecosystems such as soil erosion reduction, water resource conservation and biodiversity maintenance.

Classification-based forest management (CFM) system could achieve multiple objectives in a Korean pine broadleaf mixed forest ecosystem at Changbai Mountain in China. The CFM system divided the forest landscape into three management areas, which are Commercial Forest, Special Ecological Welfare Forest, and General Ecological Welfare Forests[7].

Forests were classified and spatially separated into two types[7]:

  1. Commercial Forest (CoF)
  2. Ecological Welfare Forest (EWF):
  • National EWF lands are also regarded as Special Ecological Welfare Forest s, which are protected from human intervention(including timber harvest and plantation establishment.
  • Local EWF lands are regarded as General Ecological Welfare Forests(GEWF).The goal of GEWF is to preserve the resiliency of the forest and its native biodiversity while accommodating human use.

In the CoF and GEWF, harvesting and plantations are permitted. According to local governmental management guidelines, only selective cutting is allowed in GEWF and Commercial Forests (CoF). For the stands selected for harvest, the selective cutting intensity must be below 30 and 40% of the total volume for GEWF and CoF forests, respectively. The harvested stands cannot be cut again until its volume recovers to its previous level. The re-entry interval cannot be less than 20 years.

Administrative arrangements

Forestry administrative system of Changbai Mountain.png

The forests are mainly managed by the local committee, and the residents' autonomous participation in forest management is relatively low. The structure of the forestry administrative management system in China is a top-down management. State Forestry Bureau is the highest government organization, that governs lower provincial forestry bureaus and sets national forestry strategies for Guoyou Lin(state-owned).

The Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Management Committee was established in 2006 and has the power that equal to local government. The Commission is authorized by the provincial government to manage economic and social administrative affairs and natural resources within the region by "following the development zone model"[8].

The main functions of Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Management Committee

  1. Protect natural resources in related region, implement conservation strategies. Set regulations and protection rules for nature reserve base on related laws. Investigate and document natural resources, improve the education and publicity of natural reserve.
  2. Supervise human activities in natural reserve.
  3. Train the staffs who are working for the natural reserve.
  4. Monitor, manage insects and pathogens in the forest. Inspect wild animals and plants.
  5. Protect valuable species, historical remains and ecosystem.
  6. Investigate poaching and other illegal activities.
  7. Prevention of forest fire[9].

Affected Stakeholders

Local communities: When Changbai Mountain began to develop tourism, the local community prohibited residents from collecting pine nuts in the tourist area, and the average family farmland was only 0.14 hectares. Therefore, the forest can only provide limited forest products for communities, making them unable to live only by picking[10].

Farmers: The development of tourism will affect farmers' arable land, farmers holding a larger area of cropland were more likely to hold negative attitude [10].

Ginseng pickers: Changbai Mountain has been the main source of precious Chinese medicine ginseng since ancient times and most families in Changbai Mountain live by picking ginseng. Due to the dense forests of Changbai Mountain, ginseng mining is a difficult and dangerous economic activity. For a long time, a "ginseng picking culture" has formed[11]. Ginseng gathering activities are very popular among tourists. Make this activity a potential project for tourism development.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

State-owned logging company:Baihe Forestry Bureau and Lushuihe Forestry Bureau are state-owned forestry enterprises. State-owned enterprises will carry out forest management strategies such as forest tending and logging[12].

Changbai Mountain Forest Economic Processing Industry:It mainly collects and processes under-forest products (including all kinds of wild mountain vegetables, edible fungi, nuts, fresh fruits, Chinese herbal medicines and other forest by-products)[13].

Tourism developers and tourists:The Changbai Mountain forest area has rich and magnificent natural landscapes and historical cultural landscapes. There are 13 4A and above scenic spots in the Changbai Mountain Forest Tourism Zone, among which Tianchi, Jinjiang Grand Canyon and Alpine Garden have been rated as 5A scenic spots. The unique Baishan Songshui Forest Tourism Economic Development Belt has been formed[13].


Success in the Changbai Mountain Administrative Committee

  • Strengthen the efforts to protect the Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve
  • Accelerate the development of the tourism industry in Jilin Province (but the priority is high GDP, which may cause more harm than benefits in later stage).[14]
  • Establish a unified core for the planning, protection, development, and management of Changbai Mountain.

Critical issues

  1. Controversial investment on over-constructions like office buildings, hotels and restaurants for tourism, road construction and its upgrade etc.[15].
  2. External funds are used in development, while local inhabitants are marginalized. The tourism resources are mainly controlled by government backed tourism companies and profits gained from tourism are primarily earned by the tourism companies and those outside investors, the inclusionary is hardly considered.
  3. The government monopoly and a tourism development based on external investments would partially slow down and have a negative effect on the economic development and the living standard of the local communities. Large-scale construction tends to ruin the cultural and traditional heritage, meanwhile destroying the uniqueness and integrity of the natural scenery and ecology[14].
  4. The development of tourism resources and the protection of the ecological environment are not well incorporated into the track of legal protection.
  5. Visitor' s awareness of the ecological environment is weak.
  6. The current law is not effective to prevent visitors from destroying the environment.


Partial inhabitants in the community are relying on the NTFP. With the development of tourism, Changbai Mountain region have changed original living mode to commercialized development that combined with tourism.

As for government management, from a macro point of view, the management power has been transferred from the hands of the colonialists in the last century to the hands of the Chinese people themselves. Then in the second half of the 20th century, there were many land system reforms under the leadership of the Communist Party.

In recent decades, the core of management power gradually decentralized and is shifted to the hands of the People. Much importance has been placed on the tasks of ecosystem conservation and the development of local communities by the government.

The emergence of more interests has attracted more external investors. To a certain extent, the management and law will be insufficient, which cannot restrain the unscrupulous businesses. Without strict enforcement, companies that care only about their interests would potentially break the balance and damage the sustainable development of tourism ecology in the local community.


  • Educate visitors and local residents about relevant laws to improve their awareness of protecting ecological environment.
  • Bring common benefits to the local communities and pay compensation to local communities for their loss caused by tourism development.
  • Empower local communities and encourage them to participate in decision making. Show respect to traditional knowledge and customary rights they have.
  • Promote Non-Wood forest products like ginseng. Benefits local residents economically as well as avoids damaging the forest ecological environment.
  • Legislation. Consider writing specific rules for broad-leaved Korean pine forest management to prevent visitors from destroying the environment[15].
  • Involve experts in forest ecology, forest management, community forest, wildlife, forest economy and other branches of science into the decision making of Changbai Mountain management.


  1. Zhang, K. (2020). "Research on Forest Change in Changbai Mountain Using RS and GIS". Changchun, China: Jilin University: 1–14.
  2. Ma, L.; Qu, Y.; Sun, G.; Wan, J.; Li, J. (2015). "Exploring conservation options in the broad-leaved korean pine mixed forest of the changbai mountain region". Mountain Research and Development. 35(2): 171–179. doi:10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL.
  3. Wang, R. (2010). "Analysis on Forests resource Development and ecology environment transfer process of history in Changbai Mountain Region in Qing Dynasty and old China (Rep.)". Hohhot, China: Inner Mongolia Teaching University.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Bao,Wang,Jia,Xing, K,G,L,W (2019). "Anthropogenic impacts in the Changbai mountain region of NE China over the last 150 years: Geochemical records of peat and altitude effects". Environmental Science and Pollution Research International. , 26(8), 7512-7524. doi:10.1007/s11356-019-04138-w.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Yu, D.; Zhou, W.; Zhou, L.; Dai, L. (2019). "Exploring the history of the management theory and technology of broad-leaved Korean pine (Pinus Koraiensisieb. etzucc.) forest in Changbai Mountain region, northeast china". Sheng Tai Xue Bao. 30(5): 1426–1434. doi:10.13287/j.1001-9332.201905.004.
  6. Cheng, L. (2013). "Analysis of historical changes of China's forest tenure policy and its prospect". Agricultural economic outlook. 9(03): 35–38.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Zhao, F.; Yang, J.; Liu, Z.; Dai, L.; He, H. S. (2011). "Balancing multiple objectives using a classification-based forest management system in Changbai Mountains, China". Environmental Management (New York). 48(6): 1136–1147. doi:10.1007/s00267-011-9669.
  8. "Function of Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Management Committee". Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Management Committee. 2016.
  9. "Forestry Bureau of Changbai Mountain Reserves". Changbai Ecology Web. 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Yuan, J., Dai, L., & Wang, Q. (2008). State-led ecotourism development and nature conservation: A case study of the Changbai Mountain biosphere reserve, China. Ecology and Society, 13(2), 55. doi:10.5751/ES-02645-130255
  11. Han, D. (2011). On the Core Value of Ginseng Picking Custom in Changbai Mountain. Fusong, China: Fusong County Cultural Center, Jilin Province 254. Retrieved from
  12. Zhao, J., Li, Y., Wang, D.& Xu, D. (2011). Tourism-induced deforestation outside Changbai Mountain Biosphere Reserve, northeast China. Annals of Forest Science (2011), 68:935–941. doi:I 10.1007/s13595-011-0099-6
  13. 13.0 13.1 Luo J. (2016). Discussion on vigorously developing the understory economy in Changbai Mountain forest area. Agricultural Development and Equipment (11), 116. Retrieved from
  14. 14.0 14.1 Shen, X. (2011). "Organizational transformations at nature reserves: An analysis of tourism development in Jilin's Changbai mountain In D. Yang (Ed.)". The China Environment Yearbook: 225–242. doi:10.1163/9789004216884_021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Liu, L. (2016). "Study on protection law of broad-leaved Korean pine forest in Changbai Mountain". (Master' s thesis).

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