The explosive growth of tourism and trade has made northwest Yunnan Province especially vulnerable to invasive species. The Nature Conservancy completed a survey on invasive species in this area in 2004. The survey showed that the population and distribution of invasive species were still at a manageable stage; but appropriate action was urgently required to prevent these invaders taking greater hold.
In July 2006, the Conservancy and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) jointly initiated an early detection-rapid response and demonstration site in Yunnan’s Laojun Mountain in order to reduce the threats that invasive species pose to local biodiversity and people’s livelihoods. Laojun Mountain is an area of huge cultural significance and also supports rare species including the endangered Yunnan golden monkey. The emergence of aggressive invaders such as Crofton weed, threatens to disrupt a carefully balanced eco-system.
In order to evaluate the scale of the problem, the Conservancy worked with invasive species experts to complete a field survey that included Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of invasive species in Laojun Mountain. The information gathered helped direct new strategies to contain the spread. For example, The Conservancy trained officials from the local Forestry and Environmental Protection Bureaus on how to tackle non-native invaders. Officials learned how to identify invasive species, determine the size and risk factor of the populations as well as how best to eradicate them. The Conservancy is also working with partners to increase public awareness of invasive species. Educational calendars featuring invasive species have been distributed throughout Kunming and Northwest Yunnan.
We are now working with partners to disseminate this approach across other Conservancy project sites in Northwest Yunnan.