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Spatial and temporal patterns of fuelwood collection in Wolong Nature Reserve: Implications for panda conservation

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; Computational Ecology and Visualization Laboratory, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, USA; China's Center for Giant Panda Research and Conservation, Wolong Nature Reserve, Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, China; Department of Systems Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Landscape and Urban Planning (Impact Factor: 2.31). 08/2009; 92:1-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2009.01.010

ABSTRACT Approximately 3 billion people, half of the World's population, are still using fuelwood in their daily lives. Fuelwood collection has been recognized as an important factor in habitat fragmentation and degradation and biodiversity loss, especially in developing countries. Understanding spatial and temporal patterns of fuelwood collection is fundamental to understanding human–environment interactions and designing effective conservation policies. Using Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in China as an example, we surveyed 200 rural households for the locations of their fuelwood collection sites in the past three decades (1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) and other ecological, economic, social, and demographic data. We found that fuelwood collection sites were becoming higher in elevation, more remote, and closer to highly suitable panda habitat from the 1970s to the 1990s. Consequently, fuelwood collectors were traveling longer distances to physically challenging areas, in our case, to areas of high-quality panda habitat. These spatial and temporal patterns of fuelwood collection suggest that future conservation policies for giant pandas, and other species worldwide, should also consider the needs of local communities.

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