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A New Protected Area Classification for A Coastal China Nature Reserve and Ramsar Site

Tom Dahmer, Cai Junxin, Maaike Snel, Wim Verheugt

Abstract


South China (Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan Provinces) has 31 intertidal nature reserves to protect 34 percent of the estimated 5,700 km2 of intertidal habitat. This coastal zone ecosystem supports rich biodiversity resources offshore from a region of rapid economic development and population growth. One coastal nature reserve, Zhanjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve (ZMNNR) and Ramsar site, covers 17,466 ha of mangals and intertidal flats surrounding Leizhou Peninsula. We describe the prevailing resource uses at ZMNNR and discuss how they diverge from national regulations specifying the range of activities allowed in nature reserves. All protected patches in all zones of ZMNNR are accessible by road, boat, or on foot, and villagers freely exploit natural resources in the reserve. Restriction of human access by enforcement of regulations is considered impracticable and counterproductive. To resolve this discrepancy we propose classification of the intertidal zone surrounding Leizhou Peninsula and including ZMNNR as a Protected Seascape or an ecological function conservation area (EFCA). To do so would eliminate an irresolvable regulatory situation while establishing a foundation for co-management of problems caused by resource over-exploitation. This would lead to more constructive engagement of local communities and government agencies in shared-use and management of coastal zone resources.

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