, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 566–576 | Cite as

Managing the Three-Rivers Headwater Region, China: From Ecological Engineering to Social Engineering

  • Yiping Fang


The three-rivers headwater region (THRHR) of Qinghai province, China plays a key role as source of fresh water and ecosystem services for central and eastern China. Global warming and human activities in the THRHR have threatened the ecosystem since the 1980s. Therefore, the Chinese government has included managing of the THRHR in the national strategy since 2003. The State Integrated Test and Demonstration Region of the THRHR highlights the connection with social engineering (focus on improving people’s livelihood and well-being) in managing nature reserves. Based on this program, this perspective attempts a holistic analysis of the strategic role of the THRHR, requirements for change, indices of change, and approaches to change. Long-term success of managing nature reserves requires effective combination of ecological conservation, economic development, and social progress. Thus, the philosophy of social engineering should be employed as a strategy to manage the THRHR.


The three-rivers headwater National governance Ecological engineering Social engineering Strategic transformation 



This work received funding from the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2010CB 951704). We would like to thank William A. McNamara for kindly editing this manuscript. The author also gratefully acknowledges the necessary support by Prof. Ya Tang (Sichuan University) and candidate Ph.D Yanqiang Wei (Institute of Mountain Hazards & Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences).


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Mountain Hazards & Environment, Chinese Academy of SciencesChengduPeople’s Republic of China

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