Conservation planning on China's borders with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam

TitleConservation planning on China's borders with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWang L, Yang B, Bai Y, Lu X, Corlett RT, Tan Y, Chen X-Y, Zhu J, Liu Y, Quan R-C
Secondary TitleConservation Biology
Key themesConversion-FoodSecurity, Environment

Transboundary conservation is playing an increasingly important role in maintaining ecosystem integrity and halting biodiversity loss caused by anthropogenic activities. However, lack of information on species distributions in transboundary regions and understanding of the threats in these areas impairs conservation. We developed a spatial conservation plan for the transboundary areas between Yunnan province, southwestern China, and neighboring Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. To identify priority areas for conservation and restoration, we determined species distribution patterns and recent land-use changes and examined the spatiotemporal dynamics of the connected natural forest, which supports most species. We assessed connectivity with equivalent connected area (ECA), which is the amount of reachable habitat for a species. An ECA incorporates the presence of habitat in a patch and the amount of habitat in other patches within dispersal distance. We analyzed 197,845 locality records from specimen collections and monographs for 21,004 plant and vertebrate species. The region of Yunnan immediately adjacent to the international borders had the highest species richness, with 61% of recorded species and 56% of threatened vertebrates, which suggests high conservation value. Satellite imagery showed the area of natural forest in the border zone declined by 5.2% (13,255 km2) from 1995 to 2018 and monoculture plantations increased 92.4%, shrubland 10.1%, and other cropland 6.2%. The resulting decline in connected natural forest reduced the amount of habitat, especially for forest specialists with limited dispersal abilities. The most severe decline in connectivity was along the Sino-Vietnamese border. Many priority areas straddle international boundaries, indicating demand and potential for establishing transboundary protected areas. Our results illustrate the importance of bi- and multilateral cooperation to protect biodiversity in this region and provide guidance for future conservation planning and practice.


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Laos, Myanmar, Regional, Vietnam

Document Type

Journal Article