The Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange and its Chinese counterparts, including the Yunnan Provincial Association for Cultural Exchanges with Foreign Countries, co-sponsored the Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development, which brought 180 experts and observers from around the world to Yunnan. The Yunnan Initiative, a comprehensive policy statement, was written as a result of the Conference. Five principles were adopted: Conservation, Inclusion, Education, Tourism and Collaboration. The initiative also stipulated a set of strategies to guide sustainable development in areas with high levels of diversity in biology and culture.
The Governor of Yunnan invited the Center to tour the Southern Silk Road and identify two demonstration projects. The 2,300-year-old Southern Silk Road is 300 years older than its northern counterpart. It connected central China to the Middle East via India and Pakistan. Today, numerous historic sites survive along this ancient trade route, including remnants of the cobblestone road. Two demonstration projects to illustrate the Yunnan Initiative were selected: the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve and the 600-year-old historic City of Weishan.
A team of urban design, tourism and land-planning professionals visited Weishan and its surrounding valley. They provided recommendations for preserving and enhancing the historic city and surrounding agricultural landscape, assessed the potential for international tourism, and identified a preservation and sustainable development strategy that included cultural and eco-tourism, in which specific trail systems for hiking, biking and touring were identified.
Another team led by the Field Museum in Chicago conducted a Rapid Biological Inventory and social asset mapping of the Gaoligongshan region. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) produced a conceptual design for an eco-lodge and gateway complex for the Baihualing area of Gaoligongshan.
Students and faculty from the Master of Science in Historic Preservation Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago traveled to the historic City of Weishan. Over a three-week period, the team developed a plan for a visitors center based on the adaptive re-use of the Dongyue Temple, from late Ming, early Qing-dynasty.
A group of planners and conservationists from Columbia University, Openlands in Chicago and New York University convened a conference on conservation and sustainable development in the City of Baoshan, in which many biologically-diverse areas (including the Gaoligongshan region), as well as large numbers of minority ethnic groups, were found.
A team from New York University organized by the Center traveled to Weishan to develop a content plan for the proposed Dongyue Temple Visitors Center.
Specialists from Columbia University, Openlands, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New York University, North Carolina State University, the Atlantic Botanic Garden and EDAW visited Nankang at the southern tip of the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve. This area is an important biological corridor between the eastern and western slopes of Gaoligongshan. The team conducted a design charrette resulting in a concept plan for a nature park at this location. The plan prioritized conservation and included recommendations for low-impact eco-tourism.
June to present
During the summer of 2006, the Center initiated an ecological restoration project on the western slope of the Southern Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve. The main partners on this project are the Institute of Botany in Kunming, North Carolina State University and the Reserve Management Bureau. The project makes use of degraded community owned land, just outside the edges of the nature reserve, to test several models for sustainable forestry and ecological restoration. This will provide a model, on-the-ground demonstration project that can be replicated if it is successful.
A photographic survey of courtyard houses in Weishan was undertaken by the Yunnan Province Department of Culture and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A book, Chinese Old City - Weishan, was published as a result.
The Center organized an American team of planners from SOM and other firms to conduct an on-site review of a draft master preservation plan that was undertaken by Tongji University of Shanghai for the City of Weishan. Written comments and recommendations were produced as a result of the review.
Jerry Adelman and Ken Hao attended the official review of the draft master preservation plan for historic Weishan in Dali. SOM, based on the information gathered at this review, produced a second set of comments and recommendations.
The Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange and its Chinese counterparts co-sponsored the Yunnan Sustainable Development Forum, which showcased the impact of development and tourism through a focus on Yunnan. The forum, held June 30 and July 1, involved an interdisciplinary team of scientists, architects, planners, heritage tourism and land use experts from the United States and Indonesia. It resulted in five recommendations that were presented to the Yunnan Provincial Government, the central authorities in Beijing, and global organizations, including UNESCO.