Originally published in Science and Technology Daily, 9 May 2011 by Li He
The upper reaches of the Yangtze River are rich in mineral resources and dense in vegetation, and constitute an important ecological area for water conservancy and catchment. An abundance of rare species—such as the giant panda and golden snub-nosed monkey—has led to the region's reputation as a 'treasure trove of biodiversity' however, this region is also a classic example of a fragile ecosystem, where rapid, large-scale economic development has resulted in soil erosion and has threatened these rare species with extinction.
The ecosystem monitoring and early warning system is the result of collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Science's Institutes of Geography and Botany, the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Renmin University of China, and other domestic technological organisations. The Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences designed the water conservancy monitoring and early warning model, as well as the carbon storage and absorption monitoring and early warning model; CAS's Institute of Botany designed the biodiversity conservation monitoring and early warning model; Renmin University of China designed the model for monitoring the social and economic impacts on ecosystem functions; and the Institute of Geology at CAS was responsible for the design of the the soil conservation monitoring and early warning model, as well as research and development for each of the special topic models.
He Jianbang tells us that the system's principle contents include geomatics, ecology, a database of socioeconomic information, water conservancy, soil erosion, protection of biodiversity, and operating models for carbon sinks' four main functional topics. To enable the drafting of relevant maps to support on-site monitoring,a 1:100,000 and two 1:50,000 scale geomatic, land use, vegetation and river maps of the upper Yangtze were completed, along with a variety of satellite images,
Whilst scientific researchers and grass-roots investigators have obtained large quantities of data and images, He Jianbang explains that tangled and complex relations mean they appear fragmentary and unsystematic. Through the ecological monitoring and early warning system, input data, output summary data, maps and all types of analysis and assessment, can be amalgamated into a single search directory, which will enable one to use aerial survey methods to reach various conclusions and can contribute to policy formulation and the precise implementation of more scientific decision-making.
Translator: Ryan Kilpatrick
China's first ecosystem monitoring and early warning system has been a success, operating simultaneously on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River at Baoxing County in Sichuan and at Lijiang in Yunnan. The following is an interview conducted between Science and Technology Daily's reporter Li He and He Jianbang, geographical scientist and natural resources researcher at the Chinese Academy of Science.