Diebu County ICCAs, China
In China’s Diebu County, five ICCAs share both a common history and the responsibility for conserving the area’s rich biodiversity. Together, the Protection Forests of Zhizi village, Baiyun village, Yangbu village, Genggu village and Houxizang village conserve an area spanning more than 20km2. Collectively, they number 350 households and over 2000 individuals.
History and Activities
The land has been managed by the local communities since 1958. In 1980, land use conflicts caused the communities’ traditional management practices to cease. However, in 1982, the communities recovered these management practices, leading to the expansion of the area of forest under community management.
The local temperate coniferous forests are home to over 500 higher plant species, over 200 vertebrate species, and nearly twenty endangered animal species. These include the Asian black bear, musk deer, sika deer, takin, goral, chestnut-throated partridge, blue-eared pheasant and giant panda.
The communities’ objectives range from protecting the spiritual and sacred value of the land, to cultural and traditional preservation, to maintaining and enhancing their natural resources. Each ICCA includes an area of forest where no natural resource use is permitted. Taken together, this amounts to an area of almost 6km2. Use of resources beyond these areas is largely restricted to subsistence and cultural use.
Management and Governance
Each of the ICCAs is managed by an elected village committee. The communities’ management practices are passed down orally from generation to generation.
Threats and Challenges
A lack of legal recognition means that the communities lack capacity to optimise their management of the area and adapt to changing threats. There is a need to develop their management skills and understanding of environmental protection techniques. Those responsible for decision-making, in particular, would benefit from enhanced technical capacity.