New Ways to Conserve the Tibetan Forests

Bazhu Villagers are practicing eco-friendly agriculture

The Bazhu Village has been peacefully nested on the hillside of the Beng Bu Shen Ge Sacred mountain, beside the Jingshajiang River for decades. Thanks to the Tibetan culture and Buddhist teachings of the region, which instills respect for life and nature, the villagers have been preserving the forests and shelters of many precious wildlife for the past 800 years. 

 

In total there are eight sacred mountains in Bazhu village, these are regarded by the villagers as the boundary between man and god and it is therefore essential they are preserved. As a result only villagers are allowed to pray in the mountains, with the cutting of tree branches strictly forbidden in order to protect their holiness.

 

Despite the fact that the Bazhu Villagers have been trying to protect their sacred lands, illegal loggers and outside herders have caused constant threats towards the soundness of their environment- a single beam alone cannot support a great house. The villagers have needed further support from outside to continue their efforts and affirm their determinations in protecting their homeland.

 

In addition, some efforts by the Bazhu Village to preserve the wildlife have been dubious given lack of means and knowledge. “In the past, in order to spread knowledge on laws and regulations in the village, every morning before dawn, there would be a speaker broadcast by the village committee”, said Mr. He Jinhua, villager of Bazhu. “We did not think we would have any consequences at first, but after a while we found that the number of birds around the area lessened. Many birds were scared off by the loudness of the speaker, which resulted in an increase in pests in the nearby forests, which caused the trees to rot and impacted farmers’ harvest.”

 

In September 2013, in order to better preserve their traditional culture and the environment, the Small Grant Programme (SGPs) launched the Community Conserved Area Development in Bazhu Village Project. This project together with Shangri-La Institute for Sustainable Communities aims to preserve the areas’ rich traditional culture and help villagers develop a sustainable community livelihood. This is achieved through promoting ecological farming, clean energy utilization and enhancing the villagers’ self-development capacity.  Under the overall Community Conservation Area platform, communities can derive benefits from ecological protection and be on the path to sustainable development.

 

The project has successfully introduced environmental friendly agricultural practices to the villagers to diversify their livelihood. Over 700 villagers have received training in environmental friendly farming, bee keeping, eatable rose cultivation and eco-tourism. These practices have had a profound impact on the village, specifically in regards to improving the villagers’ income and helping to protect the biodiversity of the area.

 

 “I never went to school and am not very literate. In the past, the village has organized beekeeping training but it was very theoretical and for me, it was not as helpful as learning to apply skills, which is easier to learn and remember”, recounted Mr. He Jianrong, a villager who has participated in many bee keeping training courses.

 

Mr. He Jianrong stressed the positive impact the training organized by the project has had on his livelihood. “I feel that I have learnt a lot, it introduced new techniques regarding obtaining honey from beehives, how to prevent pests in the summer, and manage the queen bee, which have helped notably in the yielding. I hope more trainings like this can be provided.” The project now supports 10 bee keepers and has helped them to increase their annual income in total by CNY 80,000.

 

Furthermore the project has organized a team of villagers to conduct field visits regarding the species in the mountains in order to gain an updated understanding about the biodiversity status in Bazhu. Subsequently, research regarding the social economic status of this community has also been conducted. Together this research has helped with the vast conservation efforts to protect the environment, as well as further support the community to improve their livelihood.  

 

In the future, the Bazhu community will use the Community Conservation Area platform to continue to protect their forest and work with other conservation areas in China and in the world by sharing their best practices to contribute to the global conservation efforts. 

Under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), this initiative was funded by the Small Grants Programme (SGP), a global mechanism that channels financial and technical support directly to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) for small-scale activities that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods. UNDP collaborated with local partners such as Qinghai Forestry association, Jiang Yuan Research Association and Yangling Environmental Protection Association. 

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