In order to balance development, nature reserves, and community, it is necessary to understand community characteristics and willingness. Between September and November of 2014, we surveyed infrastructure, demographic factors, economic activity, development willingness, and the demands of all 151 concerned resident sites of the Shiwandashan National Nature Reserve in Guangxi. Methods included semi-structured interviews, key people interviews complemented with a literature review, seasonal calendars, market surveys, participatory forest surveys, and community demand interviews. In 2015, we carried out focused complementary investigations on the communities located in the nature reserve. Results on the characteristics of the communities of the Shiwandashan reserve included minority culture, forest-based land utilization, high dependence on natural resources, less infrastructure development, low market accessibility, and minimal financial resources for development. There were diverse perspectives on community development, but almost all focused on subsistence needs. The demands of the communities for the nature reserve mainly included infrastructure development and forest resources use. Holistically, topics including considering the community status, threats faced by the nature reserve, development strategy of the nature reserve, species and vegetation distributions, prioritized working areas, focused communities, and urgent activities were discussed and then, suggestions were given based on the research. Specific measures included developing forest restoration and ecological compensation in priority areas, to meet the demands of the communities located in the nature reserve and realize ecological immigration if possible and establishing some projects on infrastructure construction, community culture development, and building the local brand. Meanwhile, it is necessary to establish co-management institutions, provide training to community residents and nature reserve staff and to strengthen publicity and education. This study provides some suggestions on methods and contents of community work during its primary phase and future directions were also discussed including at the micro-level (establishing an indicator system to estimate village or family status) and at the macro-level (achieving good effects of community development by legal and standard construction and allied stakeholders) which is also significant for other aspects of nature reserve management.