Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Southwest China

University of Wisconsin-Madison NSF IGERT China Program

Proposals developed at the Workshop on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Northwest of Yunnan, China

Kunming August 8-18, 2002

Proposal IV:

Management of grassland to conserve cultural and biological diversity

Project coordinators:

Prof. Dr. Wu Ning
Prof. Dr. Ken Albrecht

E-mail addresses:

Coordinating Institutions:

Chengdu Institute of Biology, CAS
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Project duration: 2003 - 2008

Project Rationale

Grasslands are the basis for cultural and economic well being of the Tibetan people and other minority groups in Northwestern Yunnan and Western Sichuan (Eastern part of Tibetan Plateau) provinces of China. Degradation of this natural resource threatens the culture and livelihood of these people. Furthermore, loss of plant and animal biodiversity is eroding the level of ecological services provided by grasslands.

The degradation of grasslands is a function of management as well as recent fluctuation in weather. In order to maintain the culture of people in the region, as well as the ecological services provided by grassland, the drivers for degradation must be understood and curbed, and strategies for restoration must be developed. The goals of this research are to understand the process, the driving forces and the scope of degradation, and to develop technology for ecological restoration and conservation of cultural and biological diversity in the target area(s).


  • To identify processes of degradation and develop strategies for the sustainable management and utilization of natural grasslands, and for the promotion of ecological function on soil and water conservation, in order to increase the contribution to pastoral production and improve the livelihood of local herders. Some potential research areas are as follows:
  • ecology and control of weed plants (eg. allelopathy of invasive weeds on grasslands)
  • grassland changes under disturbances(productivity, biodiversity, and soil properties etc.)
  • development process of pastoral systems and the sustainable strategies
  • To evaluate forage species that have potential to be used in high altitude regions and analyze technology for the establishment of artificial grassland in order to promote the production of forage crop, supply fodder for livestock in winter and lighten the grazing pressures on natural grasslands. Some potential research areas are as follows:
  • evaluation of forage species (productivity of native species, adaptability of introduced species)
  • intercropping systems for winter pasture (annual + perennial; grasses + legume)
  • technology of artificial pasture establishment and management (e.g. sowing, fertilizing, harvesting etc.);

Research sites:

Two or three research sites will be selected in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau, which including:

  • Shangrila, NW Yunnan;
  • Hongyuan or Songpan, W Sichuan

Research team:

Chinese team

US team

Prof. Dr. Wu Ning, CIB

Dr. Ken Albrecht

Dr. Luo Peng, CIB

Dr. Ed Luschei ??

Dr. Pan Kaiwen, CIB

Dr. Randy Jackson ??

Ms. Yan Zhaoli, CIB

Dr. Jack Rutledge

Dr. Gishi Song, XTBG

Dr. Katherine Bowie

Ms. Xie Hongyan, KIB

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