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Xishuangbanna: a nature reserve of China

 


 


Xishuangbanna:
a nature reserve of China



A great book on all forest vegetation types of tropical Xishuangbanna. Lots of colour pictures on ecosystems, plants and wildlife
136 pages, hardbound
EURO 32.-

 

Xishuangbanna:
a nature reserve of China

Foreword

 

With its evergreen mountains and breath-taking scenery, Xishuangbanna, located in the south of China's Yunnan Province, is often referred to as the "Kingdom of Plants" or "A Green Gem in the Imperial Botanical Crown". The region is blessed with marvelous virgin forests, tropical rain forests, abundant flora and fauna as well as ancient and charming minority cultures. This wonderland enjoys an international fame for its rich, brilliant and diverse scenic beauty, attracting scholars and tourists from both at home and abroad.

Xishuangbanna lies south of the tropic of cancer, and is traversed by the Lancang River water system, Owing to its topography, Xishuangbanna has both maritime and continental climatic features, and is extremely rich in both thermal and hydrological resources. The advantageous natural conditions have given the area a great variety of forest vegetation, plants and wildlife. Here ancient tropical plants which have been bypassed by the evolutionary process may be seen flourishing. Plants of different geological ages and species blend to form wonderful plant communities peculiar to Xishuangbanna. Roaming the sea of forests in Xishuangbanna early in the morning is like being in a fairy land of drifting fog and shimmering tree shadows. When the sun rises to clear away the mists, precious flowers and plants embrace you with their intoxicating scent floating in the air. Here grow Chinese parashoreas (Parashorea chinensis) which seem to touch the zenith, and barely noticeable fungi of unique beauty. Giant lianas also meander through the forest and epiphytic orchids cling to tree trunks bursting in a cascade of delicate, transparent flowers. The plants here are evenly distributed -- up and down and horizontally -- and occupy their respective spaces, thus presenting a unique "hanging garden" landscape, peculiar to a tropical rain forest. Xishuangbanna, with its luxuriant forests and varied plant-life, provides a safe, congenial habitat and ample food resources for a myriad of wildlife.

Penetrating deep into the jungle brings you into the presence of butterflies flying among flowers, birds singing, troops of apes and monkeys playing among the trees agilely and merrily or the shadows of wild elephants walking leisurely in groups in the banana woods. These "residents" live in harmony in the thick forests of Xishuangbanna -- a paradise that belongs to them alone. Some of China's rarest animals can be found here, including the Asiatic elephant ( Elephas maximus ), Indian wild ox ( Bos gaurus ), Indo-Chinese tiger ( Panthera tigris ), white-cheeked gibbon ( Hylobates concolor leucogenys ), binturong ( Arctictic binturong ), chevrotain ( Tragulus javanicus ), brown-headed hornbill ( Aceros nipalensis ), peacock pheasant ( Polypleotron bicalcaratum ) and green peacock ( Paro muticus ). Xishuangbanna covers less than 0.2% of the total land area of China, yet it is here that more than 4000 species of higher plants and over 600 species of vertebrates have been discovered. It boasts 50% of China's rare and endangered plants under state protection.

Among over 600 species of terrestrial wildlife roaming Xishuangbanna, up to 100 have been placed under special state protection, Xishuangbanna has become a world-famous "oasis" on the otherwise desert belt of the tropic of cancer on account of its multitude of vegetation types as well as its rich species resources. Thanks to its bountiful natural resources, Xishuangbanna also serves as a scientific research base dotted with research institutes and organizations of various branches of mankind, the People's Government of Yunnan Province established four nature reserves -- Mengyang, Xiaomenglong, Mengla and Damenglong -- in Xishuangbanna in 1958. Through years of effort by dedicated scientists and to simplify administration, the People's Government of Yunnan Province incorporated the four reserves into the unified Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve in 1981. Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, which consists of five uniquely-featured divisions -- Mengyang, Menglun, Mengla, Shangyong and Mangao, occupies an area of 240 000 hectares in total. Through its conservation of the ecological system of China's tropical forests and with its unusually large store of tropical flora and fauna, the Reserve is of great value to the comprehensive protection of nature. Among the abundant communities of plants and animals living in Xishuangbanna many are still unknown to man and these resources are waiting to be exploited, offering to man potential new sources for all kinds of raw material, food and medicines.

Above all, Xishuangbanna possesses China's largest gene pool which is indispensable to future genetic engineering. It is possible to reproduce a temperate forest. However, a tropical rain forest, following an evolution of millions of years, is a mature forest which can not be easy reproduced. Therefore, protection of Xishuangbanna is a prerequisite for understanding and studying its tropical ecological system as well as appreciating its exquisite tropical scenery. Only in doing so can its scenic beauty be guaranteed to last with its evergreen mountains, perennial flowers,, and with millions of biological species living from generation to generation. And only in doing so can the rich ancient cutural atmosphere of Xishuangbanna's people continue to thrive among the mountains, in the forests and on the banks of the Lancang River to enrich human imagination and beauty.


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