Course:FRST370/Projects/Community forestry case study in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan, China

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This case study focuses on how tenure changed with policy in various historical periods, and who are the stakeholder and what power do they have in Jiuzhaigou National Park (JNP) in aspect of community forest. According to the definition of China’s National Scenic Area (equal to National Park), JNP is mapped for protection after overlogging, then a part of this area opened towards pubic. Therefore, ecological restoration, the impact of tourism on ecology and local villagers, will be assessed in this study.


Jiuzhaigou National Park located in the northern part of Sichuan province in southwest China is famous for its unique landform and ecological diversity. It was not known by public until 1960s, then was designated as national park in 1982 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992 (Urgenson et al., 2014; Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). The name of Jiuzhaigou means “nine-village-valley”, though there are three villages exist inside the park area after integration in recent years (Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). Most of villagers are Tibetan people, others are Qiang people. The dominant religion is Tibetan Buddhism and the local faith.

Tenure arrangements

Tenure in Jiuzhaigou area has been changing with the policy during four history periods.

Before 1950s, the customary rights were owned by villagers. Every families had their own croplands converted from forest by cutting and burning trees for traditional agriculture and animal husbandry, even opium growing during 19 and early 20 centuries. This agriculture pattern is suggested to start from 2,000 years ago by archaeological evidences (Urgenson et al., 2014).

During the collectivization period (between 1950 and 1982), in order to develop agriculture, forestry and the collective economy, most forest and farmland were under private ownership was given over to local people’s commune and shared by the whole people, and a part of land was set aside for peasants to cultivate for private use (PRC, 1961). Members had rights to use but no ownership to lease or transfer it. In Jiuzhaigou at that time, villages were managed by local commune, although specific management methods may vary here, since Jiuzhaigou is a minority area. Opium growing was ceased, and some scattered remote farming areas were abandoned, and farmland near the roads was consolidated (Urgenson et al., 2014).

Between 1978 and 1999, collective agriculture was gradually replaced by family-based agriculture. Villagers can conduct production independently except for paying a small part of the operating income. At the same time, part of Jiuzhaigou area was protected as nature reserve to stop degradation caused by intensive logging during collectivization and restore forest ecosystem and designated as national park in 1982 (Urgenson et al., 2014; Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). From 1984, a part of the park was opened to public tourism , which means tourists have the rights to get access to the scenic spot. However, since 1996, with the implantation of a 5-year plan, the land for villagers to farm and graze was being reduced (Urgenson et al., 2014).

In 2000, indigenous land-use was completely prohibited (Urgenson et al., 2014). All villagers have the legal rights live in planned and integrated villages, and directly or indirectly engage in tourism and government subsidies until now (Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013).

In a word, after 1950s, all land is owned and administrated by the country and its usage right varies according to the rules and acts of different periods, since China implements a centralized administrative system.

Administrative arrangements

Jiuzhaigou National Park is managed and administrated by the Administrative Bureau of Jiuzhaigou attached to Sichuan Provincial Commission for Construction. After the national park built, the park administration started to solve forest degradation by restrict agricultural activities and reforestation approaches. There were various program emerged, including Returning Farmland to Forest Program (RFFP; also known as Grain-to-Green or Sloping Land Conversion Program), which implement progressively by curtailment or prohibition of agricultural land use and movement of grazing animals as mentioned before; the Natural Forest Protection Program (NFPP) or the National Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) to protect, restore and plant natural forests; and the program to revegetate in areas where the slope is more than 25° or threatened by desertification to raise forest cover and increase wildlife habitat for soil and water protection (Urgenson et al., 2014; Wenhua, 2004). In the program involving transforming farmland to forests or green land, central government provides free food to farmers losing land to cover the cost of land conversion (Wenhua, 2004).

Affected Stakeholders

  • Villagers

 Although villagers in JNP used to live on subsistence agriculture before 2000s, their income are mainly from tourism supported and arranged by central and local government nowadays (Urgenson et al., 2014; Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). Most villagers sell handcrafts and other souvenirs to park visitors or run other small business, which not only brings income, but attracts visitors interested in local culture and religion; some of the villagers employed as park staff get wages from the state, while some indigenous monks and believers work in monastery of pre-Buddhism and ancient Bön-po religion (Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). Except from their own income, they receive a certain part of income of park and visitor service center as subsides. The study from Zhang et al. (2017) also indicates that residents’ interests are indirectly but positively and intensively attached with forests and other nature elements as recreation resource by tourism, lending to Environmental Conservation Behaviour (ECB) to gain more corresponding interest. However, the power of villagers recognized by national government is low; villages need to obey the arrangements and regulations of the state.

  • Biologists

Some biologists study endangers species seldom found outside JNP in China will be strongly affected forest activities. They have relative high power in access to forest than villagers.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Group Description Analysis
Non-indigenous park staff Most of them are younger than villagers and have shorter associations with the park area (Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013). High power; low interest
Government agencies They have responsibility for protection and administration of the area. High power; high interest
Researches They may be interested in the culture, religion, geographic and nature resources. High power; low to high interest
Tourists Only the right to enter the scenic area part. Low power; low interest


The main conflict is that reforestation in JNP leads to the decreasing of meadow area and some species (Urgenson et al., 2014). Besides, the loss of meadow implicates the loss of true history and perceived safety of indigenous residences, as well as the traditional knowledge of resource management and protection (Urgenson et al., 2014).

On the other side, tourism, as the only economic sources, has caused many changes in the local environment (Gu, Du, Tang, Qiao, Bossard & Deng, 2013). With the impact of earthquake (Lei, Wang, Hou, Su, Yu & Wang, 2018), the sustainability of tourism is challenged.


Restore the native ecological environment, like meadow ecosystem, with the help of traditional knowledge, because the conversion of farmlands to forest resulted in the degradation of meadow and the decline of the number of some species and populations (Urgenson et al., 2014). The effect of the researches can be assessed by biodiversity changes and monitored by indigenous residents (Wright, Wang, & Tang, 2013).

The commercialization of tourism can degenerate religions, especially those that have been lost and revived in turbulent times. Cultural diversity, as one necessary part of community forest diversity, the real relief in JNP should be encouraged rather than just inherited apparently to attract tourists. Besides, biodiversity can be protected through religious beliefs, hunting taboos, sanctuary protection (Xu, Ma, Tashi, Fu, Lu & Melick, 2005).


Gu, Y., Du, J., Tang, Y., Qiao, X., Bossard, C., & Deng, G. (2013). Challenges for sustainable tourism at the Jiuzhaigou World Natural Heritage site in western China. Natural Resources Forum, 37(2), 103-112.

Lei, H., Wang, X., Hou, H., Su, L., Yu, D., & Wang, H. (2018). The earthquake in Jiuzhaigou County of Northern Sichuan, China on August 8, 2017. Natural Hazards, 90(2), 1021-1030.

PRC. (1961). Regulations on the work of rural people's communes (draft amendment)

Urgenson, L., Schmidt, A. H., Combs, J., Harrell, S., Hinckley, T., Yang, Q.,MacIver, A. (2014). Traditional livelihoods, conservation and meadow ecology in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan, China. Human Ecology, 42(3), 481-491.

Wright, W., Wang, Y., & Tang, Y. (2013). Traditional ecological knowledge in nontraditional communities: A case study in Jiuzhaigou National Park. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 31(3), 78-95.

Wenhua, L. (2004). Degradation and restoration of forest ecosystems in China. Forest Ecology and Management, 201(1), 33-41.

Xu, J., Ma, E. T., Tashi, D., Fu, Y., Lu, Z., & Melick, D. (2005). Integrating sacred knowledge for conservation: Cultures and landscapes in southwest China. Ecology and Society, 10(2), 7.

Zhang, Y., Zhang, J., Zhang, H., Zhang, R., Wang, Y., Guo, Y., & Wei, Z. (2017). Residents' environmental conservation behaviour in the mountain tourism destinations in China: case studies of Jiuzhaigou and Mount Qingcheng. 山地科学学报:英文版, 14(12), 2555-2567.

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