Foundation aims to spend $14.7m on conservation projects in rural areas
Paradise International Foundation plans to spend 100 million yuan ($14.7 million) on conservation projects in the next five years.
The Chinese non-profit environmental protection organization hopes to work with other public welfare institutions to operate trust reserves, covering 1 percent of the country’s land by 2030.
“You can not rely on solely the government to protect these nature reserves,” Zhang Shuang, chief executive officer at the Paradise International Foundation, told a seminar in Beijing last month.
“It is necessary to call for more charitable organizations to participate in the progress and fill the gaps left by the authorities,” he added.
Zhang stressed that the foundation would work hand-in-hand with other environmental organizations on far-reaching, countrywide projects.
His aim was to link up with the government, and the business community to help run and finance these conservation areas of rugged beauty.
“I really hope we are able to encourage thousands of environmental organizations to join us to build and manage these land trust reserves,” Zhang said.
Launched by Chinese philanthropists in 2015, the non-profit foundation is based in Shenzhen and is dedicated to protecting rural landscapes and wildlife.
Big business has rallied to the cause and financed the organization.
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and Pony Ma, chief executive officer of Tencent Holdings Ltd, serve as co-chairman of the foundation.
So far, Paradise International has funded more than 10 environmental organizations, as well as this year established an alliance for land trust reserves.
The aim is to establish recognized international standards for protecting rural areas under environment threat and to work together with other groups in conservation projects.
“The alliance allows all members to share operating models and working experiences,” said Wang Aimin, China program director of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“This will help reduce the costs of trial and error, and help us better protect the nature reserves that are set up,” he added.
Peng Kui, project manager of the conservation and community development division of the Global Environmental Institute in Beijing, pointed out that security needed to be beefed up in conservation regions.
A lack of money was having an adverse effect on the program in certain areas, without going into details on the subject.
“Today, China has established 2,740 nature reserves, but there are still plenty of conservation gaps out there,” Peng said. “And due to the lack of funding and staff, many reserves still lack effective protection.”
In 2012, Sichuan Nature Conservation Foundation, now known as Paradise International Foundation, signed an agreement with Sichuan province’s Pingwu county.
The plan was to take over the management rights of the 27,000-acre area of Laohegou. It later became the country’s first land trust reserve operated by a nongovernment organization and supervised by Beijing.
Five years later, this reserve's strategic location connects existing areas for species such as giant pandas and Sichuan golden snubnosed monkeys.
To protect local resources, the foundation formed ranger patrols and used infrared cameras to monitor the behaviour of wildlife.
In terms of community projects, the foundation taught villagers to develop high-quality ecological produce, such as peanuts and honey, as well as setting up an educational fund.
Up to 120,000 yuan is spent on this program to educate more than 150 villagers.
“We manage four land trust reserves in China and we will replicate Laohegou’s operating model when running more reserves in the future,” Paradise International Foundation said in a statement.