Title

Unintended Side Effects of Conservation: A Case Study of Changing Land Use in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

Abstract

Toward the goals of returning the landscape of Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve to a perceived “natural” state and protecting the environment, the Reserve in 1998–2002 implemented forest preservation policies that included restrictions on forestry, agriculture, and animal herding practiced by resident Tibetans. To document the effects of these land use changes on landscape diversity and on human vulnerability to natural hazards, we mapped and characterized topographic parameters of anthropogenic treeless areas from 1973, 2004, and 2013 satellite images. Results showed that, in addition to a previously documented overall loss of cleared land, the distribution of treeless area elevation, aspect, and slope has changed. In 1973, treeless areas were distributed approximately uniformly across all elevations and a wide range of slopes, but now they are concentrated on relatively flat slopes in the valley bottoms (∼2400 m) and high, subalpine elevations (∼3800 m). These changes are decreasing the topographic diversity of landscapes people use and likely also decreasing the biodiversity of the Reserve, where plant communities are highly stratified based on both elevation and aspect. In addition, many 1973 treeless areas were located on deep-seated landslides, while many 2004 and 2013 treeless areas were located on landslide deposits and alluvial fans, suggesting that relocation may not be reducing the risk of natural hazards for residents. These effects combine with the previously documented decline in overall area of montane meadows and associated losses to cultural heritage, ecosystem services, and biodiversity.

Publisher

International Mountain Society

Publication Date

2-1-2017

Publication Title

Mountain Research and Development

Department

Geology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-15-00056.1

Keywords

Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve, Returning farmland to forest, Biodiversity, Sichuan Sheng (China), Tibet, Environmental hazards

Language

English

Format

text

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS