Students from San Diego State University will take part in a study of the effectiveness of payments to landowners in China to maintain their ecosystems, with a focus on the impact of the policy on the country's iconic golden monkey, it was announced Thursday.
The research, in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Guizhou University, will be funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The researchers will also work with teachers at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa and Clover Flats Elementary School in the eastern San Diego County community of Boulevard to develop lesson plans based on their findings.
SDSU student researchers in the departments of geography, biology and educational technology are scheduled to travel to the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, where they will survey area residents and use camera and satellite data to track the movements of the monkeys.
The payment-to-landowners system has been in place for decades, but little is known about the environmental and socio-demographic changes it has caused, or whether the practice is sustainable, according to SDSU.
"In China, the endangered golden monkey is a symbol for conservation and the environment," said SDSU geography professor Li An, the project's principal investigator. "If we learn more about the effectiveness of ecosystem payments, we can better understand what it takes to sustain environments, local people's livelihoods and endangered species such as these."
The professor is a native of China who has previously conducted research on giant panda habitats.
–City News Service