Effective Protection and Rational Utilization of Geological Heritage

Full Solution
Winter Beauty
Wudalianchi Management Committee

Environmental protection and development are a pair of eternal contradictions. Seeking balance between protection and sustainable utilization of natural resources is the key to achieve effective protection. In Wudalianchi Geological Park (“the park”), the new-period basaltic volcanic cones of intracontinental tectonic setting, barrier lakes and lava land form have superb geological scientific value. However, in the past, locals relied heavily on agriculture, fishing and farming, which all had negative impacts on the environment. In order to solve the problem, the government provides support and guidance in accordance with the laws and regulations formulated by it, local residents can choose to engage in different industries or conduct different businesses that have the minimum impact on the environment to ensure a sustainable world that benefits all. In addition, the local government gives priority to provide employment opportunities for local residents to improve their livelihood.

Last update: 02 Oct 2020
Challenges addressed
Volcanic eruption
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
  1. The development of agriculture, fishing, grazing and mineral water exploitation has put certain pressure on the park;
  2. Even though there is no extreme environmental pressure on the park, there is pressure on air quality from domestic heating activities, on surface water quality from sewage discharge and crop fertilization,  on ground water from solid wastes;
  3. There are possible natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes that are hard to predict and prevent;
  4. Tourism brings economic benefits to the locals, but over-crowding of tourists is a potential challenge, so is the good management of the tourists.
Scale of implementation
Temperate deciduous forest
Pool, lake, pond
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Sustainable financing
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Cities and infrastructure
Indigenous people
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Science and research
Sustainable Livelihoods, Policy and Legislation
Wudalianchi, Heihe, Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China
East Asia
Summary of the process

Good management of a PA is base on clear laws and regulations, fair and impartial enforcement, and effective supervision and monitoring mechanism. It must also rely on external cooperation and exchange in academic and management. For the practice to be successful, support and adaptation from local residents/communities and all stakeholders are essential.

The park enacted necessary laws and regulations, developed master plans, annual work-plan as the specific action plan of the year is made based on the master plans and in compliance with the laws and regulations. Comprehensive evaluations are done on a regular basis to ensure good practices are followed to achieve effective management. All the deficiencies raised by the evaluation will have corresponding improvement measures formulated within the scope of capabilities.

Aware of its lack of capacities, the park actively seeks for partners, engages experts/professionals to empower itself to the best extent.

The practices of the park make the locals realize all the actions promoted and taken by the park are not only good for the environment, but also brings benefits to them, thus the locals take the initiative to participate in the actions, and it is approved the most effective way.

Building Blocks
Promote relevant legislation and strictly comply with the regulations, formulate planning and management measures and implement them

In order to strengthen the protection of the park, make rational use of natural resources, and ensure the sustainable development of the park, a regulation on the protection of the park was issued and implemented in 2007. Wudalianchi Geological Park became the first geological park implementing protection and supervision with legislative support in China. A master plan was developed for the development of the park for 2007 – 2025, to formulate the development objectives of resource protection, tourism, agriculture and forestry. The park has formulated more than 100 regulatory work systems in 8 aspects, including atmosphere, water, geological remains, forestry, grassland and biology. A comprehensive inspection team of 120 people from departments of environmental protection, homeland, planning, forestry and others was also established. Since 2003, more than 20 cases of resource destruction have been investigated and dealt with, effectively reduced the impact of human activities on the environment of the core area and buffer zone. All these measures are to ensure the protection and development of the park have laws and regulations to follow, the management is rational, and the management is done by capable professionals.

Enabling factors

A Management Committee was set up in 2000 to be in charge of planning, conservation, park development, scientific research and tourism, to ensure implementations are in compliance with regulations and rules. Monitoring and assessment are conducted. Revenues are from government financial support, ticket income and national special funds, thus Wudalianchi Management Committee has long maintained an independent status to stay unbiased.  All the decisions made are guaranteed fair and are on the premise of priority of ecological protection.

Lesson learned

Since Heilongjiang Province was the first one in China made legislation to rule the protection and management of the park, there had been inevitable imperfections in the process of making and implementing the laws and regulations. Although over the years, the Management Committee has made the effort to modify and improve the regulations and the procedures, Wudalianchi locates in a remote area, the closest big city is Harbin, outreach and exchange are not as easy and convenient as those that locate in easy-to-access areas, thus there is improvement, but it could be more. Wudalianchi would like to be more pro-active to establish academic/research collaboration, engage more experts/partners to provide valuable economic, social and protection experiences (or even lessons learned) in achieving the balance between ecological protection and human development. It is always efficient to learn from others and avoid the wrong paths.

In addition, due to the same reasons, it’s not as easy to recruit staff with the capacities the park needs as in other more developed areas.

Strengthen domestic and international cooperation and exchange, strength science popularization and public awareness, improve scientific research and monitoring capabilities

Wudalianchi Geological Park covers an area of 1,060 square kilometres, in the area it has a town, two farms, a township, a forest farm, three military farms, and some villages, with a total population of 56,730. The good management of the geological park depends not only on the supervision of the government, the implementation of the management committee, the cooperation of the local residents, but also relies on external support. Thus, Wudalianchi Geological Park reached out to various domestic and international research institutes, colleges and universities, and other stakeholders to carry out research projects, cooperation, and promotional activities, the goals are to 1) improve geological park’s research and implementation capacities; 2) learn and exchange management/development/research experiences; 3) leverage external capacity to achieve more for the best protection of the geological park while taking into account the sustainable development of the local communities.

Enabling factors

All the outreach and collaboration are fully supported by the Management Committee. The park actively communicates with MAB Biosphere, other geological parks, IUCN Green List, various meetings and activities organized by biosphere network and world geo-park network, gives speeches/presentations. The park also constantly organizes and hosts international conferences, to make itself visible domestically and internationally, and to build partnerships.


Public facilities are also built and open to public.

Lesson learned

Even though the park has the willingness and the actions to expand its influence and made it known in the world for its effective management, challenges are:

  • Funding for outreach and communications is limited to support all the activities the park wants to do. The park makes its best effort to prioritize the activities it plans and carries out the most important ones within its financial capacities, but has to give up some
  • The park locates in almost the north-most part of China, it needs extra time and effort to develop and build relationship with the outside than parks in more developed cities
  • The ways to reach out and make connections with external parties are meetings, talks and visits, they are good for getting to know new partners, but motivation for follow-ups are usually weak, thus the communications only stay at the surface. The park needs more in-depth relationship with external partners, to improve its academic level, as well as its capacity to better manage the area
  • Among the staff the park has, there is not enough talents experienced in media and marketing promotion
On the premise of guaranteeing the ecological protection, sustainably develop the economy to improve the livelihood of local communities and residents

Environmental protection is closely related to human survival and development. It is the basis of economic and social development and stability, and also an important constraining factor. Seeking the balance between conservation and development is never easy. The traditional livelihoods in Wudalianchi area included agriculture, mass tourism and industry production, these all had negative impacts on the environment. The Management Committee made scientific and reasonable planning, and has been making the effort to guide and encourage industry transformation from traditional agriculture to organic agriculture, tourism agriculture, from mass tourism to eco-tourism, industrial park was constructed to mainly process mineral resources, carry out characteristic agricultural and sideline products and livestock products, transform from traditional production to intensive processing, supplemented by green food processing, warehousing and logistics. Local residents, with the help from the government and the Management Committee, transformed from high pollution industries to work in businesses with low impact on environment. 

Enabling factors

The Management Committee supports businesses/industries that bring benefits to the local while with minimum negative impact on the environment. Government funding has been invested to encourage and support local industries. Provincial agricultural science and technology park was built to expand demonstration area of national ecological aquaculture, so as to closely monitor the individual businesses to ensure green development. In addition, opportunities are provided to local businesses by initiating and hosting national and international events

Lesson learned

Good intentions do not always come with the best practices and most preferable results. Despite the clear guiding ideology of putting conservation as the priority while promoting green development of the management committee, there are violations and wrong-doings. The comprehension and interpretation of the rules can be deviated due to different education levels. The park needs to be more pro-active in explaining and publicizing the rules, procedures and the importance of following them, so that violations or wrong-doings can be prevented beforehand. The park also needs to be smarter and creative in delivering the important messages, some misconducts are the results of not understanding.

The Internet allows people to have more choices. Without characteristics and uniqueness, Wudalianchi's products and industries can easily be submerged in a large number of options available nation-wide or even international-wide. The park should strive to explore its unique products and industries in order to stay competitive. This will help to guarantee long-term benefits for Wudalianchi.

  1. Strictly abide by the Protection Ordinance and the Master Plan of the park, the park invested around 1.3 billion RMB between 2012 and 2014 to either construct or improve the infrastructure in the park to ensure the comprehensive protection of geological relics. The completed tasks include: built 98km2 of roads around the lakes and platforms, 58km of various protection tunnels, 3500m of hiking trails, more than 20,000m of protective trails, etc.
  2. The local government and the park vigorously build and promote eco-tourism to improve the livelihoods of local residents and local economic growth. Actions taken include going to overseas and other cities in China to introduce and promote the park, advertising on various platforms to improve park’s visibility. The park and the local government also worked together to host various festivals to attract more visitors to the park and to expand its reputation.
  3. The Wudalianchi mineral water is a special product of the park. In 2010, the former AQSIQ approved the implementation of geographical indication product protection for Wudalianchi mineral water. Over the years, the park and the local government made all the effort to conserve the source of the water to ensure the quality of the water, as well as the sustainable use of the water. The mineral water business also provides employment opportunities to local residents.
  • Local residents who enjoy the park
  • All visitors to the park
  • All who get the business opportunities because of the park
  • All who get the employment opportunities from the park


Stone Sea-aa lava

This is a wonderful place. Around 2 million years ago, a masterpiece was created by Mother Nature over this vast expanse of fertile land which left behind the precious geological heritages. This place bristles with magnificent volcanoes and vast lava platforms. Lakes are connected as strings of pearls. Mineral springs dot the land like stars. This is Wudalianchi.

With volcanoes standing proudly; lava platforms rolling out spectacularly, and hundreds of mineral springs bubbling out naturally, Wudalianchi has long been known as a world-famous volcanic attraction.

In the years 1720 A.D. and 1721 A.D., Laohei Volcano and Huoshao Volcano erupted in succession. They are the youngest volcanoes in China. Fortunately, these events were recorded in detail in the books of Wu Zhenchen’s Brief Account of Ninguta and Xiqing’s External Epoch of Heilongjiang.

Volcanic activities make a great contribution to the abundant diversity of natural landscape and ecological environment in this area. During the past 2 million years, more than ten volcanoes went through the process of eruption, dormancy, and extinction. With the recovery, immigration, and occupation of plant life in this process, a unique ecological succession was carried on with the change of the volcanic environment.

Wudalianchi is a shining pearl; it boasts miraculous volcanoes, awe-inspiring rocks, tranquil lakes and magical springs.

As a classic volcanic landscape, Wudalianchi is also a well-known resort for sightseeing, recreation, and healthcare tourism.

Wudalianchi—she belongs to China as well as to the world.

Wudalianchi won 2016 Michel Batisse Award.

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Zhang Jiabo
Wudalianchi Geological Park