Synergy between human and ecosystem health
The Baodinggou Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, China, is home to the giant panda. The communities surrounding the reserve belong to the Qiang minority group. Due to their remote location and poor access to markets, these villagers rely heavily on forest resources; main sources of income are collection of herbal medicines and employment on the Sichuan pepper plantation. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) works with communities to improve their wellbeing and promote sustainable development in order to conserve the giant panda.
In 2008, an earthquake devastated large areas of the province, and in particular, hit areas within the Reserve where WWF was working. The earthquake worsened villagers’ access to clean water for cooking, drinking, and good hygiene. In response, WWF was able to divert funds from a Johnson & Johnson funded project for installation of a water pipe and water cisterns that a village-level management group and local NGO organized to build and sustain.
As a result, clean water is now available in two villages, and waterborne disease has been well controlled. People in one of the villages were so pleased that they set aside a large forested section of their water catchment and now protect it in order to continue to have clean water. Monks demarcated the boundaries in a large ceremony with the villagers. Everyone respects the boundaries: people are keeping cattle out and no one is cutting down vegetation. This is a great example of synergy between human and ecosystem health.
Contributed by World Wildlife Fund