Biodiversity Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 658-665.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08048

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Distribution of terrestrial national nature reserves in relation to human activities and natural environments in China

Guanghua Zhao1, 2, Yu Tian3, Zhiyao Tang1, *(), Junsheng Li3, Hui Zeng1, 2   

  1. 1 Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, and Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes of Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 The Key Laboratory for Environmental and Urban Sciences, Shenzhen Graduate School, Peking University, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055
    3 Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
  • Received:2013-02-24 Accepted:2013-06-13 Online:2013-12-02
  • Tang Zhiyao E-mail:zytang@urban.pku.edu.cn

To protect its huge biodiversity, China has established 2,640 nature reserves, including 318 terrestrial national nature reserves, covering ~15% of its landmass. It is necessary to characterize the geographical distribution of these nature reserves along natural and socio-economic gradients before evaluating their effectiveness in conserving China’s biodiversity. We did this using geographic information system (GIS) analysis. The results show that, the coverage of nature reserves is unbalanced across China. In total, there are 2,150 counties (91% of the total) with <10% coverage of nature reserves, of which 150 have <6% coverage and 1,726 (73%) have no nature reserves at all. A higher coverage of nature reserves tends to occur in regions of higher elevation, lower temperature, less precipitation, and less vegetation productivity. Nature reserves tend to be established therefore at high and cold locations in poor remote areas where human activities (including farming) are greatly reduced. In contrast, in warm humid and productive areas for farming and horticulture, nature reserve coverage is relatively low.

Key words: biodiversity conservation, nature reserves, geographical distribution

Fig. 1

Spatial distribution of terrestrial national nature reserves in China"

Fig. 2

County-level distribution of coverage of national nature reserves in China"

Fig. 3

Average coverage of national nature reserves in counties at different levels of population density (a), coverage of cropland (b), and GDP per capita (c)."

Fig. 4

Area (a) and coverage (b) of nature reserves along elevation in China"

Fig. 5

Area (a) and coverage (b) of nature reserves along mean annual temperature in China"

Fig. 6

Area (a) and coverage (b) of nature reserves along annual precipitation in China"

Fig. 7

Area (a) and coverage (b) of nature reserves along vegetation index (MODIS-EVI) in China"

Fig. 8

Area (a) and coverage (b) of nature reserves along vegetation productivity (MODIS-NPP) in China"

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