State-Led Ecotourism Development and Nature Conservation: a Case Study of the Changbai Mountain Biosphere Reserve, China
Jianqiong Yuan, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Limin Dai, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Qingli Wang, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Faced with fiscal constraints and enormous population pressures, 80% of Chinese nature reserves have employed ecotourism as a support and development strategy. Assessing the actual effects of ecotourism at a nature reserve that has a relatively long history of ecotourism development experience may be instructive for other reserves. Therefore, we take Changbai Mountain Biosphere Reserve (CMBR) in northeastern China as a case study, for it is one of the pioneers in embracing ecotourism in China. Personal interviews and informal group discussions were employed to understand local residents’ attitudes toward conservation. Factors affecting their attitudes were then analyzed using logistic regression. Results indicate that attitudes held by most farmers are not favorable toward the conservation of the CMBR. It is not ecotourism but rather income from collection of forest products, household crop lands, and migrant labor that actually influences their attitudes. We found that the 1-day-sightseeing tour style, the limited tourism period, and the low level of education and extreme poverty of the local residents, together with existing institutions and lagging regulations make it very difficult for ecotourism to engender local residents’ support. We concluded that institutional measures to guarantee local people’s sharing in the revenue generated by the reserve, as well as regulations to ensure involvement of the local community in the decision-making process are preconditions for ecotourism to engender local support in China. Providing educational opportunities for children and vocational training for young local residents can also contribute indirectly to enhanced conservation.
Changbai Mountain Biosphere Reserve; conservation; ecotourism; local support