Monitoring and managing ecosystem function on the steep slopes of the Lower Jinsha River Valley, Sichuan, China (2012-2017)

Yunnan Parrotbill Sinosuthora brunnea ricketti, near Hu Lu Kou, Sichuan, China, 12 June 2013.Dr Wendy Wright is working with colleagues at Sichuan University in China to assess ecological function along a section of the Jinsha River Valley in Sichuan Province, China. The combined effects of a rain shadow and föhn winds in the area cause an unusually dry climate. Most of the hill slopes are used for agricultural production but small patches of natural habitat remain, often at higher elevations and along watercourses.

The steep slopes are prone to landslips and mudslides and plantations of fast-growing, non-native species have been established in many locations in an attempt to stabilise the slopes. The area is also the location for the development of a very large scale hydropower project which will result in the flooding of, an 800km section of the river.

Relatively little is known about the flora and fauna of this valley. This project aims to document the vegetation and bird fauna of the area, as indicators of ecosystem function. Data collected will also provide baseline information for comparison with future studies to be conducted after the dams are completed and the area is flooded.

Preliminary data is being used to develop and communicate recommendations to the Provincial Government in Sichuan. These recommendations include the need to reserve reserving areas for biodiversity conservation, protection of water quality and slope stabilisation alongside the environmental modifications that result from the construction of the dams.

Further information
Dr Wendy Wright