CHINA-KENYA EXCHANGE


In March of 2014, representatives of The Shan Shui Conservation Center joined ACC to explore how Maasai community-based monitoring could be applied to the Tibetan Plateau. The Shan Shui Conservation Center is a Chinese NGO founded in 2007 by Dr. Lu Zhi, Director of the Peking University Center for Nature and Society in Beijing.



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BACKGROUND TO THE EXCHANGE

The Shan Shui Conservation Center is a Chinese NGO, founded in 2007 by Dr. Lu Zhi, Director of the Peking University Center for Nature and Society in Beijing. In addition to its permanent staff, Shan Shui collaborates with consultants and volunteers and operates in Western China. Its work on the Tibetan plateau is located in the Sanjiangyuan Special Ecological Reserve, the source of three rivers: the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Upper Mekong Rivers. Known as “The Water Tower of China”, the area is one of the world’s most important and fragile eco-regions. Home to unique and endangered species such as wild yaks, kiangs and the Tibetan antelope, the plateau is the world’s largest habitat for snow leopards. The Tibetan peoples have a long history of pastoralism. Once nomadic, the herders are increasingly sedentary and the grasslands and wetlands are suffering severe degradation. China is taking measures to understand the degradation and restore the health of the water catchment using Payment for Ecological Services (PES) as one approach. Shan Shui hopes to create a value-chain for communities through enterprises, and create mechanisms for PES to support them in conserving the land.

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BACKGROUND CONTINUED…

In order to get a better understanding of the impact of changes in pastoralism on the Tibetan grasslands, Dr. George Schaller, who has conducted extensive surveys of the plateau, and Dr. Lui Zhi invited Dr. David Western on a Shan Shui field trip to the Tibetan Plateau in 2012. Known as Jonah, Western has conducted studies of the African grasslands, pastoralists and ecosystem changes since 1967 and founded ACP, the Amboseli Conservation Program to initiate community-based conservation and monitoring methods. Shan Shui was keen to learn how the insights, lessons and community programs could be applied to the conservation of the Tibetan grasslands.

In the course of the field trip the team met with local communities and provincial government agencies to discuss their findings and recommendations. Western suggested that local monitoring, assessment and action at the village level could be effectively developed on the plateau. It was concluded that the Shan Shui team working on the Tibetan Highlands should visit Kenya to review the community-based approaches developed by the African Conservation Centre (ACC) and the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) for monitoring and managing grassland ecosystems.

Lu Zhi and George Schaller visited Kenya for ten days in March 2014 with with five members of the Shan Shui team to meet with teams from ACC and SORALO.

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