Home to some of the most biologically rich areas on Earth, China also has the world's largest human population and the fastest-growing economy. China's development has global implications for the environment and conservation.
Since 2002, Conservation International (CI) has been working in China, collaborating with governments, local communities, businesses and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to realize ambitious but achievable conservation targets. Our program in China involves field demonstrations, policy initiatives and capacity building. Striking a balance between maintaining China's natural splendor and achieving economic growth is the key to China's conservation efforts. Over the past eight years, we have had several successes that demonstrate our ability to design and implement conservation models that can work for biodiversity and people alike. These models, built upon a strong foundation of science, are the basis for scaling-up efforts to conserve ecosystems for the benefit of people.
CI has worked with partners to bring the value of ecosystem services to people through a variety of efforts. Specifically, we are implementing the first reforestation project accepted under the Kyoto Protocol in China. This project is capturing the global value of carbon and delivering it directly to China. This work is benefitting species in addition to people because the reforestation area is important habitat for Pandas and Golden Monkeys, among others.
In addition, CI has pioneered the first freshwater Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) project in China. We launched two groundbreaking studies on the topic, one in the World Heritage City of Lijiang and the other in the Yujiashan Nature Reserve. The former aimed to find an efficient method to provide social, economic and ecological protection for water resources. The results of this study will inform policy makers by providing data on ecosystem service value and the willingness of the public, especially tourists, to pay for these ecosystem services. The latter study laid the groundwork for developing PES projects by demonstrating a viable long-term conservation financing model. This is important because the Yujiashan Nature Reserve serves both as habitat for the endangered Giant Panda and as the only source of drinking water for the 28,000 people of Pingwu County.
At the local level, we are working with local communities on incentive-based conservation projects in the Mountains of Southwest China. This initiative brings the value of intact ecosystems to local people by providing important development benefits to those that commit to conserving natural areas. This grassroots effort is yet another example of how innovative mechanisms can be developed to bring economic benefits to people doing the work of conservation.
In addition to developing successful demonstration models, CI-China is working with the State Oceanic Administration on seascape conservation as well as interfacing with Chinese government agencies such as the National Development and Reform Commission to incorporate conservation into national development goals.
These efforts could not be accomplished without the strong collaboration of a variety of partners. In an effort to amplify our work, we have encouraged the creation and development of local conservation NGOs. By working with local and national civil society groups, we are able to support grassroots initiatives that have the potential to create significant positive change in China.