Restoration and sustainable management of degraded forest through the active involvement of local communities in Heshan, Guangdong
Local project coordinator: South China Botanical Garden, Guangzhou
Heshan’s subtropical evergreen, broadleaved forests have massively diminished over the last few decades mostly as a result of conversion to fast-growing plantations with non-native species, including eucalyptus and acacia. Extensive areas have become entirely denuded over time as the introduced species are not well-adapted to the local environment, triggering large-scale soil erosion and landslides.
This project aims to support ongoing forest restoration efforts which trial different recovery methods with the engagement of local communities. Working with the forestry and research stations of Heshan and local communities these include: 1) introduction of fast-growing native species in eucalyptus and acacia plantations as an immediate measure to curb soil erosion such as (Machilus chekiangensis, Phoebe bournei, Aquilaria sinensis; 2) development of an understorey vegetation cover in plantations using native species of high socio-economic value including Euodia lepta, Ilex asprella, Gardenia jasminoides, Polygonum cuspidatum, Ilex pubescens, Millettia speciosa, Flemingia stricta); and 3) rehabilitation of degraded natural forest with native species of high conservation value including Aquilaria sinensis, Erythrophleum fordii and Phoebe zhennan.To date, over 10,000 saplings of the target species generated in local nurseries have been planted over a total area of 5 hectares to test the above recovery methods and their establishment is being monitored. A series of training courses has been carried out to enhance the capacity of local farmers and forest officials in propagation, cultivation and planting techniques. These training workshops have greatly contributed to strengthen the knowledge and interest of the local stakeholders in planting more extensively native species and explore their potential for livelihoods improvement.