Not content to be leaders only in the business world, 16 Chinese entrepreneurs are also leaping to the vanguard of China’s environmental movement with plans to together create a generously-funded new private conservation fund. The lack of government involvement in the proposed fund breaks with a tradition in China of government-run conservation initiatives, and could open the door to a new wave of Chinese environmental philanthropy if other wealthy people follow suit.
Some of China’s most powerful businesspeople are behind the project, including Alibaba Group founder and CEO Jack Ma, according to a Chinese-language article from Southern Weekend newspaper translated into English by the dedicated team at China Dialogue. Alibaba Group is a spectacularly successful internet company and Ma, 47, is one of China’s most influential and celebrated entrepreneurs.
We couldn’t be happier to learn that the group’s efforts will be directed at two areas in Sichuan province that are among the most ecologically diverse and physically beautiful of China’s many stunning natural areas: Xuebao Peak in Songpan County and the Motian Ridge in Pingwu County – where WildChina operates our Tracking Wild Panda Footprints tour.
As the translated version of the article notes, “Xuebao Peak is believed to be one of the 25 most biodiverse locations in the world, while the Motian Ridge is home to 30 protected species, including the giant panda, golden monkey and the Takin antelope.”
Ma and his peers plan for their “Sichuan Nature Protection Fund,” which is currently pending approval by the Sichuan government, to begin with a 50-million yuan (US$7.6-million) startup fund. The fund will pay for conservation projects at the aforementioned areas under the guidance of The Nature Conservancy, an American-based conservation group.
Executive directors of the fund will be expected to contribute at least 8 million yuan (US$1.2 million) for the privilege of helping to oversee its operations. The fund will be one of the first, and certainly the largest, homegrown, privately-funded conservation groups to operate without any direct government control.