Huaping National Nature Reserve, established in 1978, which is in Longsheng autonomous county, Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south of China, is a typical community with mixed ethnic minorities, including Miao, Yao, Tong, Zhuang, and the Han majority, under the management of county government and the Huaping Reserve Authority[1]. The five nationalities have lived together as a community for a long time because of historical reasons.

rice terrace

This region is famous for silver fir (Cathaya argyrophylla), mineral and animal resources.[1] The agroecosystem of Huaping National Nature Reserve is terracing, while ethnic minorities gather non-timber forest products (NTFP) (e.g. fruits and mushrooms) and develop livestock farming as their supplementary food. [2]

The nations as a collective have shared the public ownership of land since 1951[1] because of socialist public ownership. Their customary rights belonging to all the inhabitants of this particular place are acknowledged by the law.[3]

They also received strong support to improve productivity and build reserves for their forest resources. The latest agreements give the ethnics reliable legal support through subcontracts to do business.[4]

Cathaya argyrophylla

Although they have already achieved a great balance between subsistence farm-based living and forest conservation, we argue that there more can be done in cultural preservation and refreshment.



Huaping National Nature Reserve is located in east longitude 109°49′07″—109°58′10″, north latitude25°28′55″  —25°39′15″, the junction of Lingui county and Longsheng autonomous county, northwest of Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south of China.[5]

There is a wide forest coverage (98.22%) here and it is famous for silver fir (Cathaya argyrophylla), mineral and animal resources. [1]

Zhuang people of Longzhou Guangxi.jpg


Since the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), there have been minorities lived here. Mostly for defeat or fleeing the war, people of different nationalities came together and began new lives here. The ethnics shared the public ownership of land until the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, but in 1951 the Chinese government gave the ownership back to them. [1]

Approved by the state council as a national nature reserve in 1978, Huaping National Nature Reserve is also the earliest nature reserve in China, with a total area of 15,133.33 hectares. Because of it, the rare and relict tree species, silver fir, and other rare and endangered wild animals and plants, as well as the typical evergreen broad-leaved forest ecosystem, are protected. It is of great scientific value to study the phylogeny, paleoflora, paleogeography, and climate of the silver fir.[6]

Yao people

Community of Miao, Yao, Tong, Zhuang and the Han majority

There are 645 people in Yuhai village and Huaping village in the reserve.[6]

The four ethnic minorities have the same basic rights as the Han, but they have other privileges, which means their customary rights as belonging to all residents of this particular place are recognized by law.[4]

There is an interesting phenomenon that even people who do not belong in a minority can wear their traditional clothing and celebrate their traditional festival because they think it’s a representation of respect.

Tenure arrangements

Since 1951, as a result of socialist public ownership[1], the community has collective public ownership of the shared land and they did self-management,[3] which means their property right is common property and is acknowleaged by the law.

Agreements on Regulating the Transference System of Collective Forest Rights (ARTSCFR, 2016) provides reliable legal support for various ethnic groups to trade in woodland through the form of subcontracting. However, these woodlands must be the tradable areas around the reserve, which were contracted by them in the 1970s. Because of the establishment of the reserve, county people's congress reallocated woodlands around the reserve to the villagers through the contracts during that period. Any lands in the reserve are untransable. The tenure to the forests owned by collective of units under ownership by the whole people is obtained by individual citizens through contracting, which shall be determined in accordance with the contract, including woodland use rights, forest ownership rights and forest use rights. According to "Forest Law", "Rural Land Contract Law" and other relevant laws and regulations, in China's rural areas, woodland resources are only collectively owned which means the ownership still belongs to local communities.[7]

And these tenures are acknowledged through the forest right certificate, which is a long term, area-based tenure. It is a certificate issued by the local government at or above the county level or the competent forestry authority under the state council in accordance with the forest law or the rural land contract law. Duration is written in the certificate according to the contract and usually is less than 70 years.[8]

Any timber in the reserve is untradeable but small timber products (e.g. wood carving) and non-timber products (e.g. mushroom) are tradeable.

Administrative arrangements

The people in the reserve are directly under the control of two villagers' committees of Huaping and Yuhai with eight villagers' groups and 590 members, which function as standing committees when the People's Congresses of Nationality Townships is not in session. The Longsheng Autonomous County People's Congress, which is the organ of power within its administrative region and consists of deputies to the people's congress directly elected by voters, is the superior department of these villagers' committees. According to the constitution, the county people's congress serves five-year terms. From the bottom up version, next superior people's congresses are Guilin People's Congress (municipal level), People's Congress of the Zhuang Autonomous Region (provincial level) and the National People's Congress (national level) separately. If there are proposals that go beyond the scope of authority, they should be handed over to the superior department one level at a time until being taken.[9]

Committees are also parts of Administration of Huaping National Nature Reserve (AHNNR) which is set up at the same time with the establishment of the reserve and it is equivalent to a public institution at the level of deputy county (department), which has the same leadership with the local county government. However, the county government only has the right to manage the local Han nationality. The rest minorities are under the management of the villagers' committees.[6]

The county government is the functional department that carries out administrative command, supervision and participates, which are set by the central government in macro-control of the national economy areas.[9]Any other political command would be delivered from upper level of congresses to the committees to conduct.

Affected Stakeholders

In this area, peoples from several minorities have additional rights. They have the rights to wear minority costumes and live in traditional houses. As they live a forest-based or farm-based life in the reserve for generations, they are all affected stakeholders. Schools and medical facility, and even jobs are provided inside the reserve, so they can live a not disturbed life there if they want.

We also considered their communities. Those communities are divided by the location but not the minority. There was a news that in 2018 one of the communities located in the reserve earned more than 1.2 million Canada dollars as the year-end bonus mainly because of tourism revenue [10].This is because all the revenue of this municipality can be owned and allocated by the whole community.

The committee members worked in the Administration of HNNR voted by plebiscite are also affected stakeholders. They have the largest power to determine their objectives in agriculture, education, and economy. Those committee members come from different minorities and conduct autonomous management according to the local situation. They also help the peoples to communicate with the government.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Interested stakeholders can be divided into several parts: The peoples who have left the reserve, government officials, officers in the local forestry bureau, NGOs, industries or individuals who buy their products, scientists or researchers, and tourists.

Peoples who have left the reserve

The peoples who have left the reserve or willing to leave are interested stakeholders. The Chinese government has set up bonus marks and scholarships for students from minorities. They can select to get further education without pressure. They may benefit the reserve in the long term as they can connect traditional knowledge to the modern world. However, their power can be very low at the beginning, as they are not committee members in the system of people's congress[3].

Government and forestry bureau officials

From government officials' point of view, the relevant objectives are to improve the ecological and economic development of the area. They are mainly focused on the targets set by the Chinese government and give advice to the minority communities, mainly on how to develop modern agriculture and tourism. Other than suggestions, the officials have no other power on the minorities.

The forestry bureau is paid by the government and aims to provide advice, so its officers are in the same category of interested stakeholder as the government officials.


NGOs, especially environmental NGO, sometimes can help educate the peoples and supervise whether they obey the Environmental Protection Act. Although they do not have the power to punish criminal offenders, they can report to the local government or forestry bureau.


The industries or other customers who bought the non-timber products from this area are also interested stakeholders. They have a large power to affect minorities' agriculture structure. However, the market economy is mixed and top-down controlled, so the influence is limited. Recently, a modern industry of mushroom located near the reserve in Guilin Province has already created a new business pattern, which takes advantage of the company, planting base and farm households. The specialized production of mushroom can be up to 4,500 kilograms daily[11].

Scientists and researchers

Many scientists and researchers stay in the reserve for years to study sliver fir (Cathaya argyrophylla). It is an ancient relic plant with special morphology and similar embryonic development as pinus, which has important scientific research value It is also a kind of good wood tree species for furniture. As their objectives are protecting this ancient species, there are some conflicts exists. Not all people can realize the importance of forest conservation, and scientists do not have enough money and power to manage.


Tourists can provide jobs for minorities. In most of the times, their visiting period is short, and they live in the traditional houses of the minorities. They are also provided by foods and can participate in local events. They are always told by the guides that they should reduce outside influence on the reserve, such as invasive species and chemical agents. Although their power is too low to influence the local’s determination, sometimes they bring large risks to this area. A piece of news reported that a fire caused by the careless use in homestay destroyed more than 82 houses and a large area of farmlands in September 2018[12].


The forestry in this area is mainly aimed to preserve ancient or valuable species and protect the undisturbed environment. The silver fir (Cathaya argyrophylla) in this place is one of the finest timbers for furniture, and it can not be cut by any individuals or industries without a license. This leads to several conflicts in this area, which can be divided into two parts: within the minorities, and from the outside.

Within the minorities, the biggest problem is that many people cannot understand the importance of preserve tree species. News reported that forest rangers in the reserve always experience misunderstanding. They lived in the center of the reserve in 1980 and became the first batch of the rangers. However, trees were cut and used as firewood by their neighbors and relatives[13].

The other conflict is between the visitors and the minorities. In my opinion, the forestry in the reserve has achieved a good balance between the economic benefit and forest conservation. The revenue mainly comes from tourism. As a result, the plantation, mineral, and animal resources are protected. However, a large number of tourists may also bring some disadvantages. They may mistakenly use the traditional tools there and cause severe problems such as wildfire[12]. Moreover, pollution is always a big challenge for reserves.

Other visitors especially forest researchers may face another conflict. The traditional Ganlan style dwellings[14], which are commonly used in wet and hot climates, can easily be destroyed by fire or debris flow. The reason is that this kind of dwellings has an overhead base to avoid getting moldy. A middle-sized landslide of 800 m^3 completely inundated several houses and killed one person in January 2019[15]. It also creates difficulty in forest management because the peoples cannot leave their motherland, but where they live now is not secure.


In modern countries, the distinction between political and social public spheres enables citizen participation at different levels, including social and state levels.

The use of the minorities’ democratic rights and participation in state administration is an important manifestation of ensuring their equal rights, which means, the ethnic minority commissioners should strive to create a relaxed external environment for ethnic minority representatives to participate in and discuss politics and pave the way for them to exercise their democratic power:

  1. The democratic rights of national minorities must be fully respected and the views of several ethnic groups must be treated and dealt with seriously. Measures have been taken: the construction or transformation of a number of private trade outlets to expand the business area and improve operating conditions; tax and interest-free support to some private trade enterprises and support their development.
  2. The civil affairs commission shall adhere to the standards when recommending candidates for ethnic minority representatives and members to relevant departments. After being elected, they should be paid attention to improving their quality. In addition to having political conditions, representatives of ethnic minorities should also have a certain degree of representativeness among their own ethnic groups which means they closely connect with the cadres and masses of their own ethnic groups and have certain influence and prestige. At the same time, they should be enthusiastic about mass work and concerned about the development of the cause of national unity and progress because of their ability to participate in and discuss politics and has the courage to reflect the requirements of the minority people.
  3. The people's committees should take the initiative in organizing representatives of ethnic minorities to participate in and discuss state affairs. For example, in recommending candidates for deputies and committee members of ethnic minorities, consideration should be given to the minority nationalities with a smaller number in the locality, so as to reflect that all ethnic groups, big or small, are equal.


Rice terraces systems in the south of China have been officially awarded the World's Most Important Agricultural Heritage on the fifth Global Important Agricultural Cultural Heritage International BBS.[17] It is a good thing to have such a heritage in the reserve. However, many of the minorities' culture there are still not protected well or even fading with little text, picture, and video records, because although there are books and documentaries documenting the unique cultures of these minorities, it is only for the entire ethnic unit. For the same ethnic group in different regions, there must be differences associated with regional differences and they have never been documented in detail. What’s worse, the next generation compulsorily learns Mandarin so they are not good at their own language and most have little interest in their own culture. What I suggest is that let the committee invite special scholars and local young people to collect information from the elders and write a pamphlet with pictures about local culture, covering unique cultures in this small area such as sacrificial rites, forestry, and farming.

What’s more, legal education and basic mandarin education is very important especially for the middle-aged and elder people. Because of the popularization of basic education and the improvement of living standards, most young people here can speak Mandarin and know a lot about laws and regulations. However, for the middle-aged and elder people, the situation is the exact opposite. They lack legal awareness of the prohibition not to cut trees in the reserve and have poor communication with outsiders due to language problems.

Another recommendation is about security. The traditional Ganlan style dwellings can easily be destroyed [15]. Moreover, the construction efficiency of traditional carpenters cannot satisfy today's huge engineering demands. The inheritance and development of traditional stilted dwellings are still facing tough challenges. The older generation of carpenters still holds the idea that their skills can only be learned by their sons and accuses the new generation of carpenters should not simplify the character of the Ganlan houses[14]. With the impact of new technology and the popularization of culture, the new generation of carpenters expect the development and progress of technology and thus take the initiative to learn mandarin and simplify the traditional construction symbols. We believe that simplified characters can improve the recognizability of language symbols constructed in traditional Ganlan dwellings, which is more conducive to the continuation and development of this technology.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Longsheng Autonomous County Civil Affairs Bureau (2018). "Longsheng ethnic autonomous county profile". Longsheng Autonomous County Government (GLLS). 
  2. W, Yonghe (2018). "Report on the work of the Longsheng autonomous county government in 2018 Retrieved from Longsheng autonomous county government". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Government of China (1984). "Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional National Autonomy (LCRNA)". the National People's Congress of China. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Government of China (2016). "Agreements on Regulating the Transference System of Collective Forest Rights (ARTSCFR)". China Forestry Administration. 
  5. "Huaping reserve geographical location". Chinese Forestry Department. 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Huaping Reserve profile". Chinese Forestry Departmrnt. 
  7. "Law of the People's Republic of China on the administration of land". Chinese Forestry Department. 
  8. The state council of the People's Republic of China (2011). "Regulations for the implementation of the forest law". The central government of the People's Republic of China. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Constitution of the People's Republic of China". 2004. 
  10. "Longsheng Year-end Bonus". China News. 2019-01-30. 
  11. "High-end "Mushroom Factory" Appears in Guilin Province". Guilin Evening. 2017-04-17. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "37 Homes Destroyed in Longji Terrace Fire in Guangxi". Nanguo Morning Post. 2018-10-06. 
  13. Yan, An (2018-10-16). "Forest Ranger Brothers Lee and Silver Fir". Chongqing Daily. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Yang, Yujing (August 2018). "Study on Language Symbol Construction of Han Nationality Stilts in Longsheng, Guangxi". Residential and Real Estate. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Zhang, Yan (2019-01-13). "One Person Died in a Landslide at Longji Scenic Area in Longsheng County, Guangxi". Beijing News. 
  16. Chu, Songyan (2007-11-06). "State and society: two dimensions of civic participation". 
  17. CCTV news (2018). "Four projects in China have been officially listed as important global agricultural cultural heritage". Sina news. 

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