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Yilin Pei

This chapter concerns the relationship/s between local communities and nature and forest reserves – and how the interests of both can be taken into account in sustainable management and protection of biological diversity. Initially, the importance of forest biodiversity and the issue of human and wildlife relationships are explained; then the general history of the creation and protection of forest reserves, and nature reserves more generally, in China is canvassed. It is explained that inadequacies present in legal instruments have led to conflict between humans and wildlife and tension between different interests. Forest nature reserves in China face many of the problems faced by forest reserves worldwide, such as illegal logging, ongoing pressure to open them for resource use, and low regulatory compliance by local communities. Different management options, and different legislative and funding options, are explored for possible reform. It is concluded that conservation of forest biodiversity should be envisaged in a long-term perspective, where building positive and cooperative relationships between local communities and protected area management, linking conservation to socio-economic aspects, orienting management towards conservation objectives, considering land rights and welcoming stakeholder participation may all help to achieve sustainable development. Reflections from China’s experience can be applied to other countries facing similar realities.