Foun­da­tion aims to spend $14.7m on con­ser­va­tion projects in ru­ral ar­eas

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By OUYANG SHIJIA ouyang­shi­jia@ chi­

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.

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