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Community-based forest fire management in Wenyime Village, Sanchahe Township, Dayao County, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China - by Zhang Lichang, Wu Long, Zhao Yaqiao and Lu Caizhen

By Zhang Lichang, Wu Long, Zhao Yaqiao and Lu Caizhen; October 2001
Center for Community Development Studies (CDS), 133 Qixiang Road, Kunming, Yunnan 650032, China; E-mail:


China had an average of 15 619 forest fire events each year since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 until 1990. Yunnan is one of the country’s key national forest areas. It is rich in forest resources, but also very prone to fire. Every year, more than 2 700 forest fire events occur, destroying 1.7 million ha of forest. Of the many natural disasters in Yunnan, fire has had the most pronounced influence on forest cover. Although forest fires are difficult to prevent altogether, proper management and control can reduce their occurrence and spread, or at least minimize the damage that they cause.

The Chinese Communist Party and Government in Dayao county have paid great attention to forest fire management, especially after the Daxinganling forest fire in 1987. A collaborative effort between government and communities in the county has led to significant achievements, culminating in Dayao county being awarded a prize for advanced forest fire management by Yunnan Provincial Government in 1992.

This case study investigates the village of Wenyime in Dayao county, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, where villagers have shown a profound understanding of fire prevention and control and have participated voluntarily in fire management. The effect of such community-based fire management (CBFiM) has been beneficial to both villagers and government.

Forest fire management has a close and direct relationship with forest tenure. The existing Responsibility Mountain policy has provided benefits and income to the people of Wenyime village, thereby encouraging their participation in CBFiM in order to protect the forest resources from which such benefits are derived. To date, the effects have been positive, with no incidence of uncontrolled fire in the past 35 years. The most effective forest fire prevention regulations are not necessarily those of the government or outside agents. In Wenyime village, the community has discussed and formulated very effective regulations of its own. These experiences are worth publicizing within the county, the province and the whole country.

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