Conservation Policy

Ecosystem Conservation and Community Development Program

Conservation Policy


In recent years, in order to protect biodiversity and precious natural resources, China’s government has added more effective environmental protection and better protection mechanisms including the grassland compensation policy, China’s nature reserve management system, ecological service economy system, and China’s national park system.

Since 2013, GEI has continually developed policies, systems and mechanisms that coordinate government implementation and expand protection policies and mechanisms. Along with government work and pilot projects, GEI has successfully promoted deep policy analysis and submitted policy recommendations in four main areas: grassland policy protection, national parks system, natural resource protected area management, and ecosystem-services based economy.

Grassland Policy Research


Needs & Approach




Details & Support

China’s grassland ecology has become critical due to the impact of economic development and improved lifestyle of the local people. Since 2011, central financial arrangements contributed 13,400,000RMB to grassland ecological protection subsidies in Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia and 8 other important grassland areas. Together these funds comprise the comprehensive grassland ecological protection subsidy incentive mechanism.

However, present environmental protection policies and projects fail to incite the local people’s enthusiasm for participation, regardless of if the project utilizes subsidies, ecological immigration or fencing.

GEI believes the local people are central to the grassland’s sustainability, and we must encourage their participation in the protection work in order to achieve balance between economic development and ecological protection. Therefore, one aspect of GEI’s research analyzes how the grassland protection subsidies are used, and another aspect analyzes the scope of the grassland protection agreement.

Improve China’s protection policy’s mechanisms and efficiency and protect China’s biodiversity and natural resources.

– Establish sustainable community-based ecological management by supporting the signing of Community-Conservation Concession Agreements, which simultaneously protect the grassland and alleviate conflict between the ecological protection and pastoral grazing, as well as expand the area of grassland protection pilot projects.
– Bring community residents into protection work and teach farming techniques in exchange for corresponding subsidies, seeds, tools, etc.

– Discuss the mechanisms used for sustainable community management, develop toolkit for Community-Conservation Concession Agreement, promote grassland protection and balanced economic development;

– Discuss the methods of using the Grassland Protection Subsidies, and make policy recommendations to improve these subsidies within the 13th 5-year plan;

– Establish a conservation and development fund, promote sustainable uses of the funding, support local people to learn animal husbandry and farming, also improve local people’s incomes;

– For the Eco-System Services Based Economy methods to support and participate in the reform of ecological mechanisms, play a market role and finally complete ecological protection market-mechanism.

– From 2011-2013, GEI conducted a CCCA project in Ningxia’s Yunwushan Natural Resource Protection Area.

This project helped communities to defined their respective protected areas and to sign CCCA agreements. Ultimately the communities became very involved in protecting the grassland.

The research ultimately found that for a majority of the herders, the grassland protection subsidies were not enough to satisfy their real needs and does not compensate the funds they lost through the band on grazing.

– From December 2013 – January 2014, GEI’s program team prepared “Grassland Ecological Protection Subsidy Reward Fund Use” research outline, for which we investigated the use of the subsidies and situation of environmental protection. This analysis supported our policy recommendations to the 13th 5 Year Plan, for which we explored and proposed a new approach for using eco-protection grants and other policy advice.
– In 2014, GEI and our partner, Chinese Academy of Science Qinghai-Tibet Research Institute, conducted a several month investigation at many large project sites in Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia on grassland management, income and expenditure, income sources and use of supplementary funds, and also conducted in-depth investigations and visits. In November 2014, the research concluded and we submitted the draft “Prairie Reward Policy Implementation Survey and Analysis.”

Period: 2013-2015;

Location: Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Ningxia, Yunnan

Partner: Chinese Academy of Sciences Qinghai-Tibet Research Institute

Funder: blue moon fund

National Park Systems Research


Needs & Approach



Details & Support

Due to the rapid economic development in recent years, society must further improve the requirements of ecological security. Against this backdrop, GEI started doing research on National Biodiversity Security including research on National Parks Systems, eco-system services economy and tools for ecosystem protection.

GEI’s National Parks System research not only outlines China’s system for ecological protection and the current state of the national parks, but also compares the situation with expert findings on America’s National Park System. The wish is that by comparing the Chinese and American protection mechanisms and means, China can develop a National Parks System with its own unique characteristics and reform national conceptions of ecological protection.

Guard China’s Ecological security; explore new protection system

Learn from America’s national park management to provide guidance and reference for China’s National Park system

Understand China’s park system development status and trends, assist with China’s ecological security system reform

– October 2015 – GEI’s team and American expert, Debbie Seligsohn, conducted a site investigation of Yunnan’s Shangrila Pudacuo National Park;

– December 2015 – GEI invited American experts, scholars, researchers and NGOs to discuss China’s park development and to share their experience and results in the American National Parks System;

– Facilitated for a group of Chinese experts to visit the US to study the American National Parks system management mechanisms and sent one of our own staff to study the US National Parks system for one year;

– We published the “Comparative Research on China and America National Parks System” report

Period: 2015 – Present

Location: China; US

Funder: blue moon fund

China Natural Resource Protection Area's Management Research and Demonstration


Needs & Approach



Details & Support

2013 was an important year for China’s Environmental Protection because the 18th National People’s Congress clearly put forth systems to protect the ecology and thus signaled that China would start institutional reforms to protect ecological security. In recent years, although China has made large investments, through ecological compensation and transfer payments to protect the ecology, the capital, use and efficiency of these funds are insufficient and the overall effects of protection are unsatisfactory.

From GEI’s point of view there are 3 important factors to consider:
1) the disconnect between the ecological compensation and protection work as even though there are many local funds, there are still many places without protection;
2) the disconnect between the funds and their supposed use, as the funds cannot alleviate local poverty and do not spur more ecological protection work;
3) the lack of capacity of local people to carry out environmental protection work.

Working in direct cooperation with China’s primary ecological legislative body, the Environmental Resources Committee, we study the importance and feasibility of legislative methods for protecting China’s environment and, then, submit the legislative proposal to the NPC.

Building off GEI’s original “Conservation Concession Agreement – National Promotion Project,” this project pushes forward research on the management and legislation of national protected areas, and importantly improves national protect area’s supervision and management system, scientific analysis, public participation, etc.

At the same time, the project promotes for China’s government to more efficiently allocate funds for protection, and to improve the structure, plan and management system for ecological protection.

Through research and demonstration, we plan to promote the “Community Conservation Concession Agreement” in the legislative system, and to open means to provide legal protection for the community to participate in environmental protection and resource management.

– The NPA Environmental Protection Agency Law Office affirmed the agreement protection mechanism and the role of NGOs in natural resource protection. The State Forest Administration’s Center for Economic Development submitted a policy proposal to the State Forestry Administration to carry-out agreement management and development of forest economics.

– Cooperation with the State Forest Administration’s Natural Forest Protection Center, promote the protection of natural forest area agreement mechanism; conduct joint research and development for forests, grasslands, and wetland with other national key ecological function area’s patrolling systems; protect the interests of community residents while conducting ecological protection.

– Protect and nurture ecosystems that are conducive to sustainable economic development by promoting ecosystem-services based economics and safeguarding the ecological security of the country.

Period: 2013-2014

Location: China

Partners: Jilin University Law School

Special guidance from National People’s Congress Environment and Resources Committee and National People’s Congress Environmental Protection Law Office

Funder: blue moon fund

Ecosystem Services Based Economy Research


Needs & Approach




Details & Support

At the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, President Xi Jinping put forward the use of institutional means to protect the ecological policies and raised ecological security to a matter of national security. This indicated that ecological crisis in China had raised to a state-level concern and demanded strategic and institutional responses to improve the existing ecological protection system. In 2013, based on long-term research and practice of the CCCA, GEI put forward a new concept and mechanism for developing the ecosystem-service economy and carried out a public welfare project in Sanjiangyuan.

– Enhance Community participation in grassland protection initiatives while also encouraging the community to develop sustainable industries and improve livelihood income.

– The project is expected to introduce innovative methods for protection and development in Sanjiangyuan and encourage the community to get involved in the ecological and environmental protection. The project can also serve as a model for simultaneously achieving national ecological security and economic development.

– Utilize the CCCA to help policy management departments and communities work together. In fact, the development of the ecosystem Services Based Economy model is based on the CCCA mechanism – as it also includes a community agreement and land management. It also effectively uses ecological protection funds, as well as supports and trains local people to carry out ecosystem conservation work. Specifically, the protect helps the communities to establish handcraft cooperatives that use sustainable materials. The sale of the handicrafts will continue to support the local community’s economy as they contribute to the fight against climate change.

– Put forward the new concept and mechanism of eco-system service based economy;

– Carry out a pilot project with ‘eco-system service based economy’ at its core;

– Promote for community residents to participate in the conservation agreement and promote sustainable community development and climate adaptation;

– Model how to simultaneously achieve national ecological security and economic development.

– The Proposal for “Implementing Community Co-Management and Promoting Protection Agreements” was submitted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee; it was also reported to the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, and received attention and affirmation by the Standing Committee;

– Drafted the “National Park Law” and submitted the “Research report on the Legislation of China’s Nature Reserves” to the National People’s Congress (NPC) Environmental Protection Committee.

– The law office of the NPC affirmed the CCCA and role of NGOs in protecting natural resources.

– The State Forestry Administration’s Center for Economic Development submitted policy suggestion to the State Forestry Administration to carry out agreement management and develop a forest economy in forest areas.

2017 – Summarized the development model and experience of conducting the projects in Qinghai, Gansu, Inner Mongolia

Period: 2013- Present

Location: Qinghai Province

Partners: Qinghai Forestry Department; Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve Administration; Sanjiangyuan National Park; Qinghai Provincial Party School; Sanjiangyuan Ecological Environment Protection Association; Nyanpo Yuzee Environmental Protection Association, Qinghai Sand Control Association;

Funders: Ford Foundation; blue moon fund; China Green Carbon Foundation

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