Deqin Biodiversity Conservation Pilot Site, Yunnan, PR China (2007 onwards)

Nestled in the central Hengduan Mountains of Yunnan Province and bordering Sichuan and the Tibet Autonomous Region, Deqin County is the northernmost part of the Mekong Headwaters landscape.

Although only 7,000 square kilometers in area, the county has immense ecological value. With topographical extremes ranging from 1,840– 6,740m above sea-level, Deqin has many climatic zones, contributing to the county being home to some of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) most impressive and diverse biodiversity. Nearly 30% of Yunnan’s (and nearly 14% of the country’s) mammal species live there, including rare species such as the snub-nosed monkey, musk deer, and red panda. In total 24 mammals and 20 bird species in Deqin are listed as of “national importance.” The county also contains extensive old growth forest and an array of plant and fungi species. Three major Asian rivers—the Yangtze (Jinsha), Nujiang (Salween) and Lancang (Mekong) Salween— wind their way through the county’s steep valleys.

Despite its remoteness and sparse human population of around 67,000, the county faces considerable environmental issues. Expanding agriculture and timber extraction, mining, illegal hunting, and a rapidly growing tourism industry have led to ecosystem damage including forest and biodiversity losses, river sedimentation, and damage to glaciers. The county is particularly vulnerable to climate change as small increases in temperature can drastically affect the habitat of plant and animal species living within narrow altitude bands on fragile mountain slopes.  

Within the Mekong Headwaters landscape, the GMS Core Environment Program (CEP) mainly focuses efforts in the Yunnan’s southern prefecture of Xishuangbanna, but is also piloting biodiversity conservation and livelihood development actions in Deqin too.

Since 2007, working closely with the Deqin Environmental Protection Department and The Nature Conservancy, CEP support included:

  • A comprehensive socioeconomic assessment to inform CEP interventions and government development planning.
  • A biodiversity assessment, which resulted in a Deqin biodiversity conservation and ecological construction demonstration project implementation plan for 2015–2020.
  • Ecological function analysis and zonation approaches introduced and applied.
  • Core biodiversity area zoning conducted for a proposed Meili National Park in 2008, (subsequently established in 2009).
  • An assessment of domestic waste management and development of waste management plans for 10 villages.
  • Village ecological restoration planning and Village Development Fund set up in two villages, complemented by community trainings on natural resource conservation, agricultural skills, and village development fund management.

Cuba village is the designated pilot village in Deqin County. So far, CEP support has achieved the following:

  • Developed Cuba Village Ecotourism and Conservation Plan;
  • Demonstration of techniques for eco-planting and animal breeding. This included practices on integrating pig raising, grape planting, and ecotourism activities.
  • Reforestation of 7.5 hectares of abandoned farmland and other land around the village, including 2,500 walnut trees, 1,650 olive trees and a 1.5 km irrigation system established.
  • Technical training provided to villagers on grape and animal disease prevention and eco-planting techniques.
  • A Village Development Fund was established to provide loans to households for livelihood activities including ecotourism.
  • Participatory research on the impacts of climate change on local communities and the famous Meili Snow Mountain.
  • Climate change awareness-raising: Local climate change issues and solutions were the focus of World Earth Day activities that involved more than 500 local residents.
  • Low-cost water filtration system installed in 16 households.
  • Rural alternative energy demonstrated with solar water heater systems installed in 16 households to reduce the use of fuel wood.
  • A 700m long road was upgraded in the pilot village. 


File Name Size Modified
Midterm Impact Assessment Report Yunnan Oct 2015.pdf 620 KB 14-09-2016
Completion report​_BCI phase I​_Yunnan.pdf 2 MB 07-06-2015

Publish Date: 27th May 2015

Last Updated: 25th May 2017

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