Biodiv Sci ›› 2024, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (3): 23324.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023324

• Original Papers: Ecosystem Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Priority assessment for natural vegetation conservation in Yunnan Province by integrating threatened status and conservation value

Siqi Tao1, Feiling Yang2,3, Chaolang Hua4,*(), Ruidong Wu2,3   

  1. 1 School of Ecology and Environmental Science, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500
    2 Institute of International Rivers and Eco-security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500
    3 Yunnan Key Laboratory of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-Security, Kunming 650500
    4 Yunnan Institute of Forest Inventory and Planning, Kunming 650051
  • Received:2023-09-06 Accepted:2023-12-08 Online:2024-03-20 Published:2024-03-06
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Aims: Priority assessment for natural vegetation conservation is an important foundation for formulating conservation plans and allocating conservation resources. Currently, only a single factor is often employed in the assessment of vegetation conservation, and studies on systematically combining multiple factors to assess priorities in vegetation conservation are scarce. This study therefore aims to assess the conservation priorities of natural vegetation types by integrating their threatened status and conservation values.
Methods: We assessed the conservation priorities of 104 natural formations in Yunnan Province. First, we determined the threatened status of the formations based on their declining and restricted distribution (Criteria A and B) according to the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. We then assessed the conservation value of each formation by calculating the weighted sum of three indicators, namely endangered species richness, canopy height, and carbon storage. We finally calculated the conservation priorities of the formations by integrating the data layers of threatened status and conservation value. Based on the priority assessment results, we further classified the formations into four types.
Results: The results were as follows: (1) 66.3% of the 104 formations were characterized as vulnerable (VU), endangered (EN), or critically endangered (CR), the restricted distribution range of the formations was the key factor influencing the assessment of their threatened status. (2) 45.2% of all formations had a high or extremely high degree of conservation value, whereas 38.5% of all formations had a moderate conservation value; overall, vegetation quality was high. (3) The integrated assessment results suggest that priority conservation should focus on the 31 formations with high or extremely high conservation values characterized as threatened. Secondary priority conservation is recommended for the 26 formations with moderate conservation value and threatened status, whereas proactive conservation measures should be implemented for the 16 formations with extremely high or high conservation values but not currently threatened, and implementing general conservation for all other formations. (4) The coverage ratio of priority, secondary and proactive conservation vegetation in Yunnan’s nature reserves was 19.5%, 9.7%, and 16.9% respectively, with some conservation gaps.
Conclusion: We assessed the conservation priorities of natural vegetation by considering both threatened status and conservation value. The methods and analysis developed in this study provide vital science-based support for regional conservation planning and actions in terms of ecosystem conservation.

Key words: natural vegetation, formation, IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, threatened status, conservation value, Yunnan Province