The UNDP/GEF project “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in the Headwaters of the Huaihe River Basin (GEF-HHRB)” forms a key element of the China Biodiversity Partnership Framework (CBPF) for Action. It aims to ensure that global biodiversity conservation values are integrated into the management of Important Ecological Function Areas (IEFAs). Baseline efforts to develop specialized management regimes for such areas provide an opportunity to mainstream biodiversity conservation into the management of significant numbers of important landscapes across China by building on the complementarities and synergies between ecosystem function conservation and biodiversity conservation. Such a solution would offer an essential complementary element to China’s protected area strategy. The project will work with relevant stakeholders at national, provincial and local levels to address barriers to launching this important management approach and to ensure biodiversity conservation is an integral component. The project will demonstrate mainstreaming in the national-level IEFA to be established in the Headwaters of the Huaihe River Basin, a biodiversity rich area considered a high priority by the Ministry of Environment Protection. Based on the HHRB pilot experience, the project will seek encourage replication at IEFAs throughout China. Mainstreaming work here will include both at a landscape level and at selected sectoral levels such as in medicinal plants, mining and tourism. The project consists of four mutually supportive outcomes: 1) Biodiversity and ecological function conservation mainstreamed into HHRB planning and monitoring; 2) Biodiversity and ecological function conservation mainstreamed into key productive sectors; 3) Biodiversity and ecosystem function considerations are regularly mainstreamed into poverty alleviation strategies and programmes; 4) Lessons learned at HHRB inform and strengthen ongoing efforts to manage IEFAs throughout China.