Ecological conservation and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin have become national focuses for China. Therefore, it is important to study the biodiversity conservation strategies for the Yellow River basin. This paper utilizes the implementation framework of “Three Global Conditions for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use”, which divides all landscapes into three categories: cities and farms (C1 landscapes), shared lands (C2 landscapes), and large wild areas (C3 landscapes). This framework considers biodiversity conservation for all landscapes and is conducive for the implementation of conservation strategies. Here, we apply the three conditions framework to China on a regional scale. We first analyze the spatial pattern of the three conditions in the Yellow River basin. We then identify the direct threats to biodiversity in this region based on a literature review. Finally, we put forward some possible systematic biodiversity conservation strategies for this region.
The spatial pattern of the three conditions in the Yellow River basin. The Yellow River basin mainly consists of C1 and C2 landscapes, comprising 45.5% and 52.9% of the basin area, respectively. C1 landscapes are highly modified by human activity and are widely distributed in the Loess Plateau and the North China Plain. C2 landscapes are mainly distributed in the Ordos Plateau and the upper reach of the Yellow River. C3 landscapes are mainly distributed at the source region of the Yellow River on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in the northwest region of the Ordos Plateau, taking up merely 1.6% of the basin area.
Direct threats to biodiversity in the Yellow River basin. Direct threats to biodiversity include: (1) Habitat loss and degradation. Urban expansion and industrial/mining development in C1 and C2 landscapes have directly resulted in habitat loss and degradation. The expansion of agricultural areas has led to reduction of natural habitats and wetlands. Additionally, road construction has resulted in habitat fragmentation and dam construction is threatening the river ecosystem. (2) Climate change. Climate warming and drying has negatively impacted C3 landscapes. In some C2 landscapes, vegetation has degraded. In C1 landscapes, climate change may further increase the demand for agricultural production, putting more pressures on nature. (3) Pollution. Cities and farms in C1 and C2 landscapes produce a large amount of waste, resulting in water, soil, air and noise pollution. (4) Over exploitation. The large demand for water due to over exploitation of agriculture and animal husbandry, excessive tourism development, and unnecessary construction projects all have negatively affected biodiversity. (5) Invasive species. The Yellow River is at risk of invasive species invasions due to aquaculture, aquatic trade and release activities.
Biodiversity conservation strategies in the Yellow River basin. Various ecological protection projects in the Yellow River basin have already seen success. In an effort to focus on biodiversity conservation, we propose the following six additional strategies: (1) Realizing “conservation covering all landscapes” through spatial planning. (2) Improvement of the protected areas system. (3) Systematically improving production and ecological efficiency in agriculture. (4) Building ecological cities. (5) Improving biodiversity conservation in ecological engineering projects. (6) Strengthening the overall protection of the river ecosystem in this region.