Biodiv Sci ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 658-665.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08048

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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:2013-11-20 Published:2013-12-02
  • Contact: Tang Zhiyao


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