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Assisting the regeneration of Guangxi's unique karst biodiversity through active participation of local communities, Taitang, Gongcheng County, Guangxi

Local coordinator: Guangxi Institute of Botany and Guilin Botanic Garden, Guilin

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR) ranks as one of China's top three provincial entities in terms of plant and animal diversity, besides Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. GZAR boasts more than 4,000 species of higher plants half of which are of immediate socio-economic relevance given their use in herbal medicine. The region is also world-renowned for its unique karst landscapes that host major areas of tropical, limestone seasonal rainforest, and subtropical, broadleaved evergreen and deciduous forest. The area is a national and regional priority for biodiversity conservation as demonstrated by a considerable number of restoration and protected area initiatives in recent years. However, ineffective management, limited technical capacity and lack of land use alternatives for rural communities, continue to favour indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, habitat degradation, fragmentation and loss.

This new project aims to test different restoration techniques in a karst area of northeastern GZAR marked by high levels of poverty and severe land degradation. Working with local communities and authorities of Taitang village, Limu township, Gongcheng county, propagation, cultivation and planting of native species will be enhanced and evaluated in terms of their potential for larger-scale revegetation of hilly karst areas, and the opportunities they present to improve the livelihoods of the local communities. In the first 12 months of this three-year project, a number of public outreach activities will be undertaken to engage the local community of Taitang in the development of a restoration pilot programme. Training courses will be organised to enhance capacity in plant identification, and vegetation survey and restoration techniques. In the medium and longer term, stocks of saplings of native target species identified in collaboration with local stakeholders, will be established in specialised nurseries for use in revegetation trials. A network of pilot restoration sites will be created where different methods of outplanting and management are tested.