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good habits,” said He Changping. eption center, which includes a cafe and s, covers 0.22 hectares. According to nal standards, set by the UN, land for on cannot take up more than 1 percent k’s total area, so a hotel will be built on site. If tourism flourishes in the deep number of visitors will be limited to a m 1,000 per day, he said. anagement bureau brought in Beijing Environment and Development Instivide funds to villagers to enable them to ash crops and raise bees, thereby lifting mes. In Damaidi village, each of the 22 ds pays 1,000 yuan a year into a developd. A further 22,000 yuan is loaned to four y Sansheng, providing capital of 44,000 annum. r, Liu Shuncai, the village head, obtained rest loan of 8,000 yuan from the fund to ehives. He made a substantial profit by e honey, and is still in credit even after his loan every month. come per person in my family doubled uan last year,” he said, adding that four milies have taken out loans to cultivate d in Chinese traditional medicine. chang, the park’s central village, the stanng is extremely low. Official statistics show that last year the average per capita income was 700 yuan, which left many locals dependant on illegal logging and hunting to make ends meet. Recognizing the severity of the situation, the management bureau signed an agreement in August with The Nature Conservancy, a US-based NGO, allowing the organization to conduct research and protect the habitat of the Golden Monkey in Yunnan.
Liu Hui, the manager of the conservancy’s office in Lijiang, said that this year the NGO doubled the price it paid farmers for white kidney beans on condition that they refrained from cutting extra wood and killing the indigenous wildlife. Liu and her colleagues have to walk at least 15 km to visit the far-away monitoring station for the monkeys, which are situated too deep in the interior for highways and automobiles.
The NGO has also organized villager mountain patrols to track Golden Monkeys and stop the locals from harming the endangered species. Liu said her organization has installed more than 30 surveillance cameras in the woods to monitor local activity.
To the north, Liming is the park’s most populous township. More than 4,800 residents live in a narrow river valley in the shadow of the famous Danxia landforms — stunning, rainbow-colored mountains — that are part of an ambitious plan to build highways, hotels, plank roads, and other tourist facilities.
In 2009, Yunnan Expo Tourism Holdings Ltd agreed a joint venture with the government of Lijiang to develop tourism in the Liming area. So far, the company has invested at least 250 million yuan to improve the infrastructure. A new cableway is under construction. When it’s finished, cable cars will carry visitors to Qiangui Mountain, where the rocks on the summit resemble thousands of tortoises.
“Any construction has to pass our tests in the planning stage. Construction companies aren’t allowed to use explosives because the rocks may collapse from the impact,” said He Jiguang, director of the management bureau’s planning division.
However, tourism hasn’t brought the riches the villagers had anticipated. Feng Jinlong, Liguang’s village head, said the conflict between development and environmental protection hasn’t eased following the boom in tourism. He earned 240,000 yuan by selling land and invested the money in raising chickens and sheep. However, the residents of villages deep in the mountains still live below the poverty line.
The area’s natural resources are still being depleted, too. In Liming, which is renowned for its tobacco, demand has soared for the firewood needed to dry the leaves. Moreover, because the stem of every kidney bean plant has to be tied to a support, stocks of natural bamboo are being reduced rapidly.
Laojun Mountain falls under three banners: a national park, a geographic park and a scenic site, each governed by the forestry department, the land and resources department and the housing and urban-rural development bureau.
The park’s management bureau has no real power to stop environmental violations or to order villages and townships to follow the strict planning requirements. However, in October, it forced Yunnan Expo Tourism Holdings to demolish 50 meters of plank road that did not comply with the planning rules. It was a rare victory for He Jiguang.
“The management bureau has less power than a county government, even though we’re at the same level,” said Zhang Xuemin, the bureau’s director, who urged the central government to establish a ministry-level department to govern all national parks.
“Many of the ongoing nature reserves or scenic sites are naturally beautiful landscapes, but are used independently for sightseeing and research. That has resulted in low efficiency in terms of management and budgets, so the national parks system will integrate the two models to promote conservation and development,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affair, in an educational booklet published for the November plenary session.
Contact the writer at email@example.com Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei contributed to this story.