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Abstract

The State Council has adopted Agenda 21 for China and biodiversity conservation as one plank of this agenda for China's sustainable development. This paper offers a brief discussion of China's White Paper on Agenda 21 and examines as a case study the problem of sustaining biological diversity in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. This area is rated as one of "megadiversity" and one deserving of a high priority for conservation purposes. After discussing the general socio-economic obstacles to biodiversity conservation in Xishuangbanna, it discusses the types of strategies adopted for reducing pressures by local communities on biodiversity and nature conservation. The preferred strategy in China for easing pressures on biodiversity conservation in nature reserves is to try to improve economic opportunities outside of the reserves and raise the income levels of people living in the neighbourhood of the reserves. This approach has been adopted in Xishuangbanna and there are plans to extend it. Community development projects such as agroforestry, joint ventures in tourism and so on are being encouraged. Mechanisms for selecting suitable community development projects e.g. using Rapid Rural Appraisal {RRA), are considered. Without- economic development at the local level, plans for biodiversity conservation are unlikely to succeed in China or for that matter elsewhere in the developing world.

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