Biodiv Sci ›› 2005, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (1): 51-57.  DOI: 10.1360/biodiv.040141

• Editorial • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Significance of Tibetan sacred hills in nature conservation of Shangri-La Gorge, Yunnan

Li Zou1,2,3, Zongqiang Xie1*, Xiaokun Ou2   

  1. 1 Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
    2 Institute of Ecology and Geobotany,yunnan University,kunming 650091
    3 Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100039
  • Received:2004-09-18 Revised:2004-12-06 Online:2005-01-20 Published:2005-01-20
  • Contact: Zongqiang Xie


Shangri-La Gorge, located in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest Yunnan, has a unique landscape and is abundant in biodiversity. As the dominant indigenous culture, Tibetan culture has a significant influence on the local natural environment. In order to evaluate the role of the Tibetan sacred hills in nature conservation, we carried out an extensive survey through the methods of ethno-ecology, plant ecology and cultural anthropology. In the field survey, two representative forest communities (Pinus densata community and Abies ernestii var.salouenensis community) at different locations (sacred hills and ordinary hills) were selected as samples. A comparison between samples of sacred forest and samples of ordinary forest was made to evaluate their plant species diversity. The results showed that total species number and community coverage in the sacred grove communities were 20 and 100% in Pinus densata community, 14 and 85% in Abies ernestii var.salouenenensis community, respectively, which were higher than those in ordinary forest (11 and 70%, 12 and 60%, respectively). Sacred hills constitute a “bottom-up” conservation system. This system plays an important role in local biodiversity conservation and ecological balance in Shangri-La Gorge. Furthermore, it provides different kinds of non-timber forest products and has various ecological functions. We discuss the importance of applying traditional knowledge and vernacular conservation systems to promote nature conservation. In addition, based on the research on Tibetan sacred hills, we suggest that traditional knowledge should be respected and conserved. Applying indigenous knowledge to promote nature conservation would be an effective way to achieve win-win results between local community development and biodiversity protection. To supplement the modern nature conservation system, more efforts should be made to promote the vernacular conservation system, which has been proved to be more effective.