The Baimaxueshan (BMXS) Community Education Project
The Baimaxueshan (BMXS) Nature reserve lies in Deqin County, a very remote area of Yunnan Province close to the border of the Tibetan Automous Region. Here, permanently snow-capped peaks rise high above the plateau, more than 6740 meters above sea level, forming the watershed for three great Asian rivers; the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween.

Biodiversity within the reserve is enormous. 922 species of seed plants provide habitat for over 100 widlife species. These included the Yunnan snub6nosed monkey, the snow leopard, the clouded leopard, and the Assam macaque, all of which are class 1 protected animals in China.
Baimaxueshan Nature reserve, part of the greater Tibetan Plateau, is home to innumerable scattered, etnic Tibetan communities and villages. Having between 150 and 459 people, their village cling perilously to the lower slopes of the regionís steep valleys. Amongst the poorest in China, these peopla have a subsistence lifestyle of agriculture and forestry and through the collection of nontimber products.

The chronic poverty, a major cause of environmental degradation in the area, often causes residents of the region to overexploit their resources. As a focus of the project, the education program aims to help them curb and eventually stop such destructive practices as illegal logging and poaching. This continues to be accomplished by fostering within them the methods, beliefs, abilities, and voices to decide for themselves on how best to sustainably and fairly manage their natural resources, in cooperation with nature reserve staff, government offices, and neighboring villages.
Educating for Sustainability
Since 1996, WWF Chinaís Education program has been involved in education for sustainability (EFS)training for the Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve Staff. In school and community education initiatives, the program aims to raise local villager awareness and knowledge in order to foster nature conservation to Buddhism.
In June 2000, WWF Chinaís education Program began to elaborate a structured education project for the region. With financial support from WWF UK, WWF Switzerland, and BP, program goals focused on building the capacity of local residents toward effective management of natural resources. The projectís core was a process of participatory learning, enabling communities to identify, analyse, and address concerns in their environment. From the very beginning, community and nature reserve staff participation and self- involvement were fundamental to the projectís development. By making decisions on their own about the project design and itís activities, they developed a sense of ownership by investing personal time, energy, and critical thinking necessary for long term success.

The projectís specific focus was the administrative community of Yeri, consisting of 24 villages, with the village of Yongdui-the largest with the 31 households- serving as the areaís administrative center, under the jurisdiction of the yeri Protection Station, one of four such station in thee reserve.
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Establishing community learning centers
To mobilize and strengthen the process of participatory learning in Yeri, the WWF China education program supported the creation of two community learning Centers (CLCs), one at Yongdui and another at Dongsui, a village of 24 households, the CLCs provides a mechanism through which voices of the local people can be better heard and learning can take place through community-initiated activities. These activities include: (see -Including Bio-Gas Systems and solar Energy - Planting trees - Maintaining in live culture)
As a result of social changes in the communities since the project began in 2000, relationships between the Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve Staff and the community have steadily grown stronger and stronger. Reserve staff, forest police, and the community now work in ever-growing trustful partnership on many conservation issues. Furthermore, the religionís strong Buddhist faith and concept of living in harmony holds great potential in influencing sustainable lifestyles here, and in other communities both in China and abroad, to solve environmental effects. Though their beliefs and actions, the community is working to insure sustainable management of their natural resources themselves and for future generations. In so doing, they help the central government prevent flooding downstream through forest preservation efforts, they help the Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve and WWF to protect habitats, helping to slow the decline in biodiversity, and perhaps most importantly, through participatory learning, they learn to find, analyse, and decide on proper actions for stewardship of their environment, in effect, learning above all, to help themselves.
For more information please contact:
Ms. Liu Yunhua
Education program officer
WWF China
Room 901 Gateway, No. 10 Yabao Lu
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020
Peopleís Republic of China
Tel: ++86 10 85636538 ext.229
Fax: ++86 10 85615731
Email: yhliu@wwfchina.org
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