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Saving Biodiversity and
Forest Ecosystems of Yunnan, China

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Rain forest farming with ginger species

Shifting cultivation





Guidelines for RFFF Membership (preliminary draft, only)

1 Objectives
RFFF is aiming at protection and sustainable management of endangered forest area utilizing ecological concepts and fair share marketing schemes for local farmers.

Clear cutting and preparation for rubber plantation. Planting rubber is still the single most destructive land-use form and authorities close eyes over conversion of forest land into rubber plantations.

2 Membership
Legal persons of any nation, as well as organizations and companies are eligible members.
The purchase of a minimum of 1 ha entitles to all membership rights.
A local Steering Team of experts is managing the complete process from land acquisition to forest management and marketing.

3 Land Administration
3.1 Land is acquired by a legal, local person (Li Minguo) under the existing law, presently allowing renewable use rights for 60 years.
3.2 The land title is handed over to the RFFF under the name of the purchasing member.
3.3 Each RFFF member is part of the advisory team designing management options and general policies.
3.4 Yearly reports reflect on essential data of members' interest. Financial overviews are presented after year's end.

Shifting cultivation leaves secondary growth at different age classes. These are patches we are looking for as the natural vegetation is still present and can regrow. While going through successional stages, the young forests can be used for a variety of non-timber products under ecologically sound management practices.

4 Forest Management
4.1 Forest management schemes combine the goals of biodiversity protection and ecologically sound production of non-timber forest products.
4.2 Individual members may also opt for strict protection of their piece of forest. This allows for successional changes of the forest biocoenosis. Enrichment planting with species that have a slow distribution mechanism is possible and advisable for biodiversity protection.

5 Cost and benefit
5.1 Investments (e.g. in seedlings) are shouldered by the member, while management of the forest (e.g. planting, harvesting, invasive weed control etc.) is done by the local farmers under guidance of the local steering team.
5.2 The farmers are compensated for their work through:
- monthly income
- peak work compensation
- 1% share of large scale export deals
4.3 The RFFF members benefit from the scheme through:
- 50% share of the net income of various products marketed by the local steering team from their piece of forest (if no specific protection or contract growing arrangement is chosen);
- import of explicitly selected crops (e.g. Vanilla, herbal tea, etc.) at farm price level (requires a contract growing arrangement)
- optional sale of their land-title to members (with the forests disappearing fast, it is expected that land prices continue to go up).

prepared to grow rubber; only very small patches of forests on hill tops are living reminders of the former rainforest.

6 Responsibility of the local Steering Team of experts
6.1 scout for suitable sites
6.2 negotiate with farmers and land owners
6.3 process purchase, legal procedures, and documents
6.4 ensure protection of flora and fauna
6.5 prevent forest utilization practices, which are destructive to the ecosystem and/or its species composition
6.6 manage the forest land for any or combinations of the following options:
- strict protection
- tree farming (only for reforestation of logged areas)
- ecologically sound farming options under tree canopy
6.7 ensure scientific approaches to state of the art sustainable and ecological forest management
6.8 pursue marketing opportunities for crops under the RFFF scheme
6.9 calculate cost and benefits for members, farmers, and the Foundation, and transact payments
6.10 register sale and re-sale of land
6.11 provide annual reports and financial statements for the RFFF and its members

Patchwork like here is also part of the RFFF scheme. Through reforestation with endangered species the clear cut areas become ex-situ genetic corridors and are connecting the still existing remnants of original forests.

7 Responsibility of RFFF members
For the forest land purchased, the member will be responsible for:
7.1 cost occurring through purchase, registration, certification of his/her land
7.2 management fees for farmers (in line with a cost calculation)
7.3 cost of seeds and/or seedlings (to be specified in separate contract growing arrangement)

Life as a shifting cutivation farmer is hard and the RFFF scheme attempts to offer a way out of the vicious cycle of poverty and natural resources over-utilization.

8 Registration of the RFFF
Negotiations for registration of the RFFF in Germany or Switzerland are in progress.

Farmer toasting to our RFFF scheme.

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Your ecologically friendly production of rain forest plants:
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Imagine, the traceability of your supply chain leads your customers to the tropical jungles of the Mekong river and to the Himalayan mountains where Tibet meets Yunnan. Immerged in diverse culture and rich biodiversity, your customers can visit the places and people where your organic products start from pristine soils, clean air, and where they support the livelihood of local ethnic communities.

Would this add to the sustainability and credibility of your company?

Would your trademark benefit from international research publications lauding your company's involvement in saving the rain forest?

If you are in the food, cosmetics, flower, herbal, and medical business, certifying your products as contributing to rain forest and biodiversity protection will be an advantage with a competitive edge.

The TianZi Biodiversity Centre is working with German Universities to design land use systems, which are bound to change paradigms: we promote rare agro-biodiversity species, manage complexity, and find alternatives to destructive forms of mono culture.

If all this is in line with your company's business concept - please contact us.

The TianZi Team.


Landuse in Yunnan is largely designed by ethnic minority people from more than 20 distinctly different ethnic communities. Wherever possible, and mainly in the fertile lowlands, rice fields are forming the landscape.

In the mountains, shifting cultivation is predominant, although it is now gradually given up for increased cash crop production.

Agricultural industry has taken its toll and large mountain areas are under sever environmental stress by destructive ways of growing crops like sugar cane, corn, rubber, pine apple, and even the famous Puer tea.

Yunnan is also rich in traditional herbal medicine, which is one of the agricultural crops in some areas. Although the majority of herbs is still collected in the wild.

This forest protection scheme addresses the issues around forest loss by simply saving forests from further destruction.