Recent protected-area designation in China: An evaluation of administrative and statutory procedures

Chi Yung JIM, Steve S. W. XU

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Past protected-area (PA) designation in China followed a centralized administrative approach with minimum participation of lower-echelon governments. A period of deregulation and decentralization in 1979-91 without the benefit of relevant legislation resulted in few designations and poor management. Responding to national and international encouragement to augment the conservation of natural resources, the central government enacted statutory procedures in 1991 to encourage and regulate PA establishments at different administrative levels of government. The study evaluates the effectiveness of the new procedures in fulfilling conservation objectives. The new legislative and administrative regime reinforces deregulation and decentralization by devolving designation power and shifting financial and management responsibilities to lower levels of government, and involving more scientists and objective site assessment in PA design and assessment. Problems have arisen in the designation process due to the omission of key biota and ecosystems, bypassing the scientific assessment stage, too much emphasis on non-conservation gains, ignoring the needs of local communities, escalating people-park conflicts, intensifying paper-park syndrome, and the conflicting role of experts. The recently designated Shimentai Provincial Rank Nature Reserve in a mountain area in south China served as a case study to illustrate the procedures and problems. Copyright © 2004 The Royal Geographical Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
JournalGeographical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004



Jim, C. Y., & Xu, S. S. W. (2004). Recent protected-area designation in China: An evaluation of administrative and statutory procedures. The Geographical Journal, 170(1), 39-50. doi: 10.1111/j.0016-7398.2004.05038.x


  • China
  • Shimentai Nature Reserve
  • Protected areas
  • Nature reserves
  • Nature conservation
  • Statutory designation