Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens

Conservation and restoration in the Zhibenshan Mountains, West Yunnan, China

Posted on 15 September 2016

Over the past 5 years, BGCI has assisted botanical experts of Kunming Botanical Garden (KBG), CAS, to survey the woody flora of the temperate to subtropical forest habitat in the Zhibenshan mountains, Yunlong County, Dali Prefecture, Yunnan. Over 300 woody species were recorded in the course of the surveys. A number of target species were propagated and ex situ collections developed at KBG and local nurseries at Zhibenshan. In addition, a pilot site was established in situ to study and monitor progress of population reinforcement programmes.

The second phase (2013-2015) will include a major emphasis on habitat restoration at Zhibenshan and entail the following components: 1) establishment of permanent, pilot restoration sites for selected target species; 2) monitoring and evaluation of planted saplings; 3) establishment of a ‘near-situ’ conservation site with a focus on the propagation and cultivation of Plant Species occurring in Extremely Small Populations (PSESP), a concept developed by the Forestry Department of Yunnan Province. Further efforts will be undertaken to ultimately assign official protection status to the biologically most valuable parts of Zhibenshan, linking it with the existing Gaoligong National Nature Reserve.

A 67 ha large ‘near-situ’ conservation base located some 4 km away from the core zone has been establish with PSESP being planted alongside species translocated from an area due to be lost during the building of a road. While this road will facilitate better access, Kunming Botanical Garden will influence the authorities in charge of the works to integrate the road into the landscape and minimize negative impacts to the extent possible. The close interaction with these authorities and local and provincial forest departments will help pursue the discussions concerning the future protection status of some of the most valuable areas of the Zhibenshan mountains.

In 2015, the aim is to scale up propagation and planting of selected species as well as raising awareness of the region's biodiversity, labelling emblematic species along the new road. Work will continue in conjunction with local government to develop a conservation and restoration programme focusing on in situ conservation of PSESP.

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