Bio-diversity conservation: Waiting decades for blossoms to flourish

BEIJING, May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by on China’s Bio-diversity conservation:

Bio-diversity conservation: Waiting decades for blossoms to flourish

On the sandy turf, yellow flowers with a vivid golden hue were in full bloom. This is a scene from Gaogesitai-Hanwula National Nature Reserve, Inner Mongolia, China.

These unique flowers are the Tulipa mongolica, which were once believed to be functionally extinct after the species was last sampled in 1979. This footage captures these flowers in their bloom season for the first time, which serves as loud and clear proof of the improving local ecological environment.

Qian Hongyuan is the director of the Administration of Gaogesitai-Hanwula National Nature Reserve. During the planting seasons, Qian and his colleagues usually head to the afforestation area miles away at six in the morning for examination. Since 1988, forest coverage in the natural reserve has increased from 30,000 mu to 100,000. Qian said, every year they try to grow another 1,000 to 2,000 mu of forest, because only with larger forest mass, can water be better preserved in the soil, thus providing appropriate humidity for the Tulipa Mongolica. Years of efforts have paved the way for this moment of blossom.

There’s more. Over two months ago, at Kunming Botanic Garden, researchers in Sun Weibang’s team surprisingly found that the Katsura is blooming. This is the first time in 40 years that the Katsura flowered since its conservation here, marking a milestone for the successful protection via relocation of the Katsura, a Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations.

Plant Species with Extremely Small Populations (PSESP) refer to those with very little population and varieties of species, but hold great economic, scientific, and ecological values. In 2005, the notion of PSESP was initiated in Yunnan, followed by the conservation efforts led by Sun Weibang. For years, he and his team have been adopting rescue conservation measures through relocation, releasing back to the wild, and artificial cultivation. Besides the Katsura, Acer yangbiense and Magnolia sinica are also among the PSESP list rescued by Sun’s team.

While telling stories is easy, the challenges behind each story are often beyond imagination. In Jinfoshan National Nature Reserve, Wang Xia, a forestry worker, and her peers hunt and gather Cathaya seeds on steep mountain ridges and by the cliffs in September and October every year, for the purpose of artificial cultivation. The steep slopes are dangerous; the seeds are one third the size of a pea and blend in to the surrounding environment, making their job even more difficult. What’s more, the Cathaya are highly susceptible to their immediate environment, and even cultivated seedlings are prone to death. Despite all this, workers in the reserve still managed to cultivate more than 1,700 Cathayas and released them back to the wild.

Inside a flower dwells a world. On a land with boundless bio-diversity, each species reflects a story about humanity’s company and conservation. In recent years, China has established nearly 200 botanic gardens, reserving over 23,000 varieties of plants. In the past decade, an average of 200 new plant species were found in China every year, accounting for one tenth of the global total. Behind these impressive numbers are the endeavors and wisdom of researchers as well as ordinary people.

A full bloom is worth waiting for, even though it may take decades. The conservation of bio-diversity are long lasting efforts, which will bring to people more blossoms in the future.

China Mosaic 

Bio-diversity conservation: Waiting decades for blossoms to flourish