Yinggeling National Nature Reserve, Hainan

Yinggeling (YGL) sits deep in the interior mountains of Hainan Island, and because of its remoteness, the site had not been properly studied by scientists. Kadoorie Conservation China (KCC), a Department of KFBG, joined a pilot survey of the area in 2003, and was impressed by the extensive primary rainforest and rich biodiversity. In 2005, the Hainan Provincial Forestry Department and KCC led a 3-month expedition to study the area's biodiversity value. Together with our collaborators, the team of over 60 specialists discovered a wealth of exciting biodiversity, including species new-to-science such as the Yinggeling Tree Frog (Rhacophorus yinggelingensis), new China records such as the tropical tree Trigonobalanus verticillata, and over 160 new Hainan records such as the tree Bretschneidera sinensis and Pygmy Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga pusilla). These findings underlined the irreplaceable conservation importance of YGL. However, like many other forested areas, the biodiversity value of YGL was slowly being reduced, by illegal activities such as poaching and logging.

To preserve this unique biodiversity asset, KCC has whole-heartedly supported the Provincial Forestry Department to develop YGL into a world-class nature reserve. KCC’s head of Department, Dr. Bosco Chan, has even been seconded to the position of Special Deputy Director to assist in reserve management since 2006. In the span of a few years YGL has made some solid accomplishments in reserve management, research and monitoring, and community-based conservation. In 2014, YGL was officially upgraded to a national nature reserve. The experience gained and challenges tackled in managing YGL could prove valuable for other protected areas in the region. This is the first step in protecting the forest landscape of South China to ensure the lasting benefits to people and nature.