The opportunity to look at the effects of a participatory monitoring project several years after the end of a project is a rare one. This chapter does just that, by comparing project goals, experience one year after implementation, and five years later, in a project working with local communities in protected areas in the south-western province of Yunnan in China.
China's efforts in biodiversity conservation have increased in the last decade. China was one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, and to formulate its National Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan (NBCAP) (Wang et al., 2000). This plan specifically addresses the need to integrate conservation, development and local livelihoods, and to monitor the impacts of biodiversity conservation efforts. Its implementation has become, to a large extent, the responsibility of local government because of decentralizing reforms. Local government – county, township, and village committees – are mandated to formulate policies and develop regulations for natural resources management. They must, however, comply with the Chinese constitution and laws, and with higher level regulations and policies (Dupar and Badenoch, 2002). Consequently, national policies concerning land tenure, protected areas, agriculture development and rural cooperatives will have a great impact on implementation of the plan at local levels. However, support has not been provided for local institutions to develop sound environmental governance at village and township levels (Dupar and Badenoch, 2002).