How We Work

What do you see when you imagine nature in China? The white-tipped peaks of impossibly tall mountain ranges? Endless, verdant forests? Roaring rivers? Sweeping deserts? Giant pandas? Siberian tigers?

There’s a reason why China’s environment conjures up so many different breathtaking images. As one of the world’s most diverse countries, China’s habitats, plants and animals rank among the world’s rarest. And many of them face threats from China’s blistering development.

The Conservancy has been working for more than a decade to find solutions that allow China to develop and protect the full spectrum of its biodiversity, from pandas to people. By joining us, you can help safeguard China’s natural benefits — its forests, its wildlife, its water — and make a profound and positive contribution to the health of the whole world.

Protected Areas

We’ve been a major force in pioneering new protected area models in China. One such model has been the national park. In 2007, we assisted the Chinese government’s establishment of the country’s very first national park, Pudacuo (Potatso). Since then, we’ve also had a hand in the creation of two additional national parks in Yunnan province, Meili and Laojunshan — and we’re also working with the provincial government to advance the creation of nine new parks by 2020.

We’ve also developed the Land Trust Reserve, an innovative approach that unites civil society and the government behind the shared goal of land conservation. The first Land Trust Reserve is just getting started in Sichuan Province’s Pingwu County, where a robust protected area will conserve an enormous chunk of one of the world’s most important giant panda habitats.

China has set aside more than 15 percent of its land through the creation of over 2,400 nature reserves, but much of that land is not open to the public or actively managed. The Conservancy has also helped modernize China’s protected areas system through a wide variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing those reserves’ capacity to protect land.

Fresh Water

China depends on the Yangtze in so many ways. The 4000-mile river directly sustains more than 400 million people, and its hydroelectric dams provide the current that propels China’s economy forward.

The Conservancy is dedicated to keeping China’s freshwater artery pumping. Our agreements with government organizations and major hydroelectric corporations give us an important role in guiding sustainable dam policy, and our projects aim to provide power for people and save aquatic wildlife.

We work all along the Yangtze, from its mouth to its upper reaches, where we help protect the river's only fish sanctuary. The Conservancy is also actively involved in efforts to improve the operation of major hydropower projects like the Three Gorges Dam and make the Yangtze safer and more productive for the thousands of communities that depend on it.

Climate Change

China is currently the world’s foremost producer of greenhouse gases, which means there’s tremendous potential for curbing both the causes and effects of climate change. Our comprehensive Conservation Blueprint project identified 32 regions that both we and the Chinese government believe are most vital to the country’s environmental future, and we’re currently analyzing how ecosystem-based adaptation strategies can help those regions thrive.

We’re also starting innovative projects that could shape China’s carbon policy for years to come. In Sichuan Province, we’re launching a carbon-accounting pilot project that will help China participate in international commitments to address climate change. These efforts could play a major role in China’s efforts to establish a comprehensive national-level carbon-accounting system.

Also in Sichuan Province, we’re starting immense reforestation projects that are fighting climate change and restoring habitat for giant pandas. This work includes exploring how we can use the power of carbon markets to accelerate forest conservation and deliver economic benefits to local communities. 

Keeping China Vibrant

Improving lives has long been at the core of the Conservancy’s mission. That philosophy is evident nowhere more clearly than in Yunnan Province, where the Conservancy has been active since its earliest days in China.

The Conservancy has installed more than 10,000 alternative energy units — from biogas furnaces to fuel-efficient stoves — in Yunnan households, reducing fuel wood use and pollution in a wide range of communities. We’ve created livelihood benefits for families in and around national park areas through ecotourism; we’ve increased conservation education opportunities for local children; and we’ve given the remote and unique cultures of southwestern China a forum to speak out through the Photovoice project.

Our expansive campaign to protect the Yunnan golden monkey is another project that demonstrates the difference we’re making for all of China’s living beings. Join us in imagining and creating a safer future for China’s environment.


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