National Parks

The Paulson Institute is supporting the establishment of a national park system for China—which in turn will become an opportunity for reform and improved management of all of China’s protected areas.

We are working in partnership with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Heren Foundation to explore an optimum model of national park system, which fits the Chinese context and also meets international standards.

Why National Parks? China has established a series of protected areas, which include nature reserves, forest parks, wetland parks, scenic areas, world heritage sites. The network covers more than 16 percent of the country’s land area, but there are still important habitats and ecosystems that are not covered by the existing protected areas. We hope that the new national park system will fill these conservation gaps. At the same time, the existing protected areas are managed by multiple government agencies, with overlapping and sometimes contradictory mandates. More importantly, due to a lack of both sufficient funding from the central government and incentives for local governments, the existing protected areas are not managed effectively to achieve conservation goals. We hope that introduction of national park system will help address these governance, policy and management issues, which will lead to overall improvement of the effectiveness of China’s protected areas.

A well-planned national park system is the key to establishing proper governance structures and, eventually, better laws to regulate the management of China’s protected areas. With the right balance between effective conservation of resources and properly managed ecotourism, the national parks will help China achieve its “ecological civilization” and “beautiful China” goals and to provide a source of national pride and spiritual inspiration for the Chinese people.

The establishment of a national park system is an important part of the reform program announced in the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party Congress. In February 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) unveiled a plan for piloting a national park system in 9 selected provinces.

Our program: The Paulson Institute has signed a collaborative agreement with the NDRC and Heren Foundation. During the three-year pilot phase, we will conduct in-depth international case studies from seven countries, organize capacity building activities for officials and park managers, develop technical guidelines for the pilot provinces, and support research and planning work in the area around Mount Wuyi (Wuyi Shan) in Fujian Province. The Heren Foundation is providing general financial support for the program.

Mount Wuyi, Fujian: We have chosen Mount Wuyi (Wuyi Shan) area as the focus for our research work because it represents many of the most critical challenges and opportunities that China’s protected areas face today. We believe that it will be a good case study in finding practical solutions to achieving better coordination among various management agencies for different categories of protected areas. Improved coordination will lead to stronger conservation and management of the area’s world-renowned rich natural and cultural resources.