The following six sites across three provinces of Southwest China were identified:

  • Yuanyang                       Yunnan Province
  • Kunming                         Yunnan Province
  • Zhongdian                      Yunnan Province
  • Menghai                         Yunnan Province
  • Qionglai                          Sichuan Province
  • Meitan                            Guizhou Province

The locations of these sites are presented in the following map: 








Site description: The description of the three provinces of Southwest China, where the project sites are located are described below:

Yunnan Province:

Geography: Yunnan Province is in Southwest of China, a mountainous province, which international borders with Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) and the national provinces of Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi. The Province covers 394,000 km2, of which 109,800 km2 belongs to the Upper Yangtze basin. The population of the Province was 40.0 million in 1996. Agriculture is the main source of income for most people.

Topography: Yunnan is highly varied, with environments ranging from glaciers and snow-capped mountains near the Tibetan border, to tropical forests in Xishaungbanna. Altitude varies from 6740 metres at Mount Kagebo to 76.4 m on the Honghe River, averaging between 1000 and 3000 m. About 95% of land is moderately to steeply sloping, thus only 6.8% of Yunnan’s land area can be used for agricultural activities. Compared with the total uplands in China, Yunnan Province has more steep upland.

Climate: Yunnan has been described as “four different seasons existing simultaneously in one mountain and different weathers beyond 10 km”. Yunnan encompasses a wide range of environments, including tropical rainforest, temperate uplands and cool highlands. The Province is actually influenced by four different branches of the atmospheric circulation. Annual rainfall varies between 600 mm in dry valleys and 1700 mm in the mountains. Generally, the distinct rainy season is summer and autumn, with more than 80% of annual rainfall falling between May and September. Winter and spring are very dry.

Soil: Diverse natural environments and parent materials increase soil variations. According to the Chinese classification system, most of the soils in Yunnan are Red Earths (Ultisols), in which adequate levels of fertilizers and lime are applied, and are quite productive for a wide range of crops.

Biodiversity: Yunnan is known as the kingdom of plants, animals and home of medicinal herbs. The province not only has more plant species of tropical, subtropical, temperate, and frozen zones than any other province in the country, but also has many ancient, derivative plants, as well as species introduced from foreign countries. Among the 30,000 species of plants in China, 18,000 can be found in Yunnan, which is also home to 3,000-plus kinds of rare animals (55 percent of the national total), 31 kinds of birds (64 percent of the national total), and 130 kinds of reptiles (42 percent of the national total).

Cultural Diversity: Yunnan has the highest number of ethnic groups in China. Among the country’s 56 ethnic groups, 25 are found in Yunnan, including the Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Lahu, Va, Naxi, Yao, Tibetan, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jino, Mongolian, Drung, Manchu, Shui, and Bouyei. Ten ethnic minorities living in border areas and river valleys include the Hui, Manchu, Bai, Naxi, Mongolian, Zhuang, Dai, Achang, Bouyi and Shui, with a combined population of 4.5 million; those in low mountainous areas are the Hani, Yao, Lahu, Va, Jingpo, Blang and Jino, with a combined population of 5 million; and those in high mountainous areas are Miao, Lisu, Tibetan, Pumi and Drung, with a total population of 4 million.

Agricultural crop diversity: In Yunnan, the terrain is dominated by hill, with little flat land. Agriculture is poor with extensive systems and low productivity. Grain production is mainly for subsistence. Varying climatic conditions enable a wide variety of crops to be grown. Rice, wheat and maize are the main staples, followed by tubers, legumes (bean and pea) and buckwheat. Tobacco, tea, sugar cane, aromatic and oil-bearing plants are grown as cash crops. Cropping systems vary throughout the Province. In some areas, one crop is grown per year, while in others two or three are grown.

Sichuan Province:

Territory: The total area in Sichuan is 485 thousand km2, which takes 5.1 % and ranks fifth in area in China. Towards East is the Sichuan basin, Southwest is mountainous region and west is the alp canyon high plateau. The area of plain accounts for 7.84%, hilly land, 10.06%, high plateau, 32.08%, mountainous region,49.44% and water area, 0.58 per cent.

Land: The area of cultivated land in Sichuan is 4.28 million ha, which accounts for 4.5% and 14.4%, respectively and ranks fifth and the first in whole and west China. The area of paddy field is 2.22 million ha, dry farmland is 2.06 million ha. Per capita cultivated lands in Sichuan are 0.05ha. The effective irrigated area in whole cultivated land is 2.48 million ha, which accounts for 58 per cent.

Climate: The climate of east basin belongs to semitropical humid climate. Annual average temperature is above 160. Non-frost period is 240-300 days. Annual rainfall is 1000- 1400 mm. In southwest mountainous region, there are no evident seasonal change because of the warm winter and the cool summer, though there is significant difference between the dry season and the humid season.

Soils: Most of the soils in Sichuan are rice soils,  purple soil, loess, alluvial soil, and lime.

Agriculture: In 2001, the whole crops-sowing area was 9.49 million ha. In which the cereal crops-sowing area was 6.62 million ha (69.8%). Industrial crop sowing area was 1.41 million ha (14.8%). In basin the index of multiple cropping is high. Farming system of three harvest in one year, which has summer-harvest crop, autumn-harvest crop and late-autumn crop, had come into being. In 2001 the Index of Multiple Cropping of whole province reached 221.5%. Rice, wheat, maize and sweet potato occupied the prominent place in grain crop. The area and yield of rice took 30.7% and 47.5% of whole grain area and yield, respectively. Wheat, 22.7% and 16.9%. Maize, 18.1% and 16.1%. Sweet potato, 13.2% and 10.9%. Industrial crop includes cotton, oil crops, sugarcane, fruit, tea, tobacco, hemp and Chinese medicine. In Sichuan, Rice, wheat, rape and maize are the major crops, followed by sweet potato, tubers, bean, pea, buckwheat, rye, oats, highland barley, tea, peanut, potato, tobacco, sugar cane, barley, faba bean, small red bean, mung bean. In most of areas two harvests in year can be obtained, and in some areas only either one or three harvest per year is possible.

Guizhou Province:

Geography: Guizhou province has also been called for its short forms as “Qian” or “Gui”. Located in the east part of Southeast China, Guizhou borders the Chinese provinces of Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan and Chongqing to the east, south, west and north, respectively. The province covers 176,100  km2 and has 1.8% of the national total area. The population of the province by the end of 2003 was 38,696,600, including 33,086,400 living in rural areas. Guizhou is a mountainous and inland province where agriculture is main activity.

Topography: Situated on the slope of the east Yunnan-Guizhou, the province is high in west (1500-2800m) and low in east (500m), declining from central part to three directions of north, east and south. The average elevation is 1100 meters. Maoling Mountain is the watershed of Yangtze and Pearl River valleys. Mountains and hills constitute 92.5% of the province’s total land area and the limestone landform takes up 61.9%, making Guizhou one of typically developed Karst regions in the world, thus only 7.5% of Guizhou’s land area can be used for agricultural activities. At the end of 2002, the total infield area is 1,769,400 hectares among the whole province. Compared with the average infield of each person in China, Guizhou Province has less cultivable and quality land.

Climate: The climate is subtropical monsoon and the weather is normally mild, neither frigid nor scorching. The annual average temperature reminds around 150 in most place, with mean temperature ranging from 30 to 60 in the coldest January and that between 150 and 230 in the hottest July. The annual rainfall is 1000-1400 mm and much rain falls in the months of June, July and August, usually 450-600 mm. The frost-free period is 250-300 days. In Guizhou, the amount of cloudy day is over 150 days in common and the relative humidity remains above 70% each year.

Soils: Guizhou has 159,100 km2 soils which is 90.4% of the whole provincial land areas. The type of soils varies along with the distribution of land. Most of the soils in Guizhou are Red and Yellow Earths. Compared with other provinces, the amount of soil resources, which can be used for the agricultural activities, is obvious short.

Biodiversity: Biological resources are ample and distinct in Guizhou. Among the list of national protected animals, fifteen are on the list of first-class and seventy-two belong to the second-class. The varieties of rare plants and wild-grown economic plants amount are more than 4,000, including 15 first-class conserved plants and 59 second-class nationally protected plants. Guizhou is also abundant in medicinal herbs with a total number of 3,924 varieties. Among the nationwide surveyed 363 key medicinal herbs, Guizhou has 326.  More than 30 belong to the rare and precious ones.

Cultural Diversity: Guizhou is a multiracial province. The whole province contains 49 ethnic groups and the number of ethnic groups is only next to Yunnan and Xinjiang. Nine ethnic minorities each with a population over 100,000 are the Miao, Bouyei, Dong, Tujia, YI, Gelao, Shui, Bai and Hui. Those with a population between 10,000 and 100,000 are the Yao, Zhuang, She, Maonan, Mogolian, Mulao and Manchu. Minority population accounts for 37.8% of the provincial total. 55.5% of the total provincial area is under ethnic groups’ autonomy.