Conservation of native plant diversity and habitats in the Zhi-Ben-Shan Mountains, Yunnan
Local project coordinator: Kunming Botanical Garden (KBG), Kunming
The temperate to subtropical forests in the Zhi-Ben-Shan mountains, Yunlong county, in the vicinity of the Gaoligong National Nature Reserve, Yunnan, hold an exceptional plant diversity extending over 10,000 hectares. The region is under growing threat from mining activities and over-exploitation of forest resources. Surveys carried out in the first phase of this project between 2009 and 2012 to develop pilot restoration activities in highly degraded areas, identified more than 300 plants, some occurring in extremely small populations. A selection of these species is described in the publication of An illustrated guide of selected plants of the Zhibenshan Mountains, West Yunnan, China, available in Chinese and English (http://groups.kib.cas.cn/epb/swb/tnh_xwdt/201112/t20111207_157863.html)
Building on the botanical inventory and preliminary ex situ propagation and cultivation of rare woody species from Zhi-Ben-Shan at Kunming Botanical Garden, work continues in this area to promote integrated ex and in situ conservation. A ‘near-situ’ conservation site has been identified to trial population reinforcement plantings, focussing on species occurring in very small populations (Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations, PSESP, a concept pursued by the Forestry Department of Yunnan Province). A number of unique PSESP taxa occur in the project area including Craigia yunnanensis, Rhododendron protistum var. giganteum, Phellodendron chinense, Acer yangbiense, Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora, Magnolia sinica, M. ventii, M. phanerophlebia, M. megaphylla, M. odoratissima, M. grandis, Cyclobalanopsis sichourensis and Taxus yunnanensis. Several hundred saplings of some of these species have been outplanted in the near-situ conservation site.
In 2015, BGCI intends to scale up the propogation of target species in the near-situ conservation site. Emblematic specimens along the sides of the new road will be labeled with botanical information to enhance awareness of the region’s unique plant diversity. A number of planning meetings will be held with relevant governmental authorities, to prepare a conservation and restoration programme focusing on in situ reinforcement plantings of species occurring in very small populations.