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Keywords:

  • China;
  • forest use;
  • natural resources;
  • nature conservation;
  • nature reserve

ABSTRACT. The Shimentai Nature Reserve in Yingde County, Guangdong Province, China, established recently in a subtropical upland forest area, has served for ages as an essential and customary source of livelihood for local people. Assessment of forest usage indicates heavy reliance by villagers on its diversified biotic resources. This forest dependence, associated with socioeconomic factors such as distance from village, ethnic origin, out-migration of rural youngsters, and a local tradition of conservation, is unlikely to decline in the near future. The reserve management recognizes the need to address the livelihood issues of local people and to win local support. A pragmatic adherence to provincial and higher-level policies that exclude forest-tapping activities could lead to more people-versus-park conflicts, which would dilute fundamental conservation objectives. A more enlightened and localized approach that nurtures a synergy between limited forest use and conservation while helping to develop new income sources could furnish workable alternatives.