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Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology
Dietrich Schmidt vogt's Group
GONG Xun's Group
HU Hong's Group
HUANG Junchao's Group
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Location: Home > Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology > Dietrich Schmidt vogt's Group > Major Research Achievements
Major Research Achievements

(1) Status of shifting cultivation and of secondary forests in the Mekong region.
It was found through meta-analysis of case studies that while shifting cultivation is declining throughout the Mekong region, the rates of decline varies from country to country. It was also found that the trajectories of change vary. While, for instance, the change in SW-China has been predominantly from shifting cultivation to plantations of perennial crops, the change in Thailand has been from shifting cultivation to annual crops. Secondary forests developing on fallow fields are an important component of shifting cultivation landscapes. Analysis of remote sensing data from the Lower Mekong region has shown that the proportion of secondary forest in the overall land cover mosaic is declining, most probably in conjunction with the demise of shifting cultivation. Secondary forests are, in fact, the most rapidly declining component of land cover in the Lower Mekong Basin. Field research in Lao PDR has provided evidence for the importance of secondary forests for local livelihoods, especially in remote areas, and for the accelerated decline of secondary forests with improving accessibility.
(2) Decentralization of natural resources.
Decentralization of natural resources such as forests and aquatic bodies is an overriding trend throughout the region. Research on community forestry in Nepal, one of the prime examples of decentralization, has shown that while community forestry has benefitted livelihoods it has not benefitted biodiversity to a similar extent, mainly on account of lacking policy guidelines. In Thailand, it was found that integrating farmers into a multi-stakeholder forum has increased their motivation to engage in conservation and also improved their livelihoods. The formation of River Basin committees, also in Thailand, has, on the other had only limited success because of lacking institutional support. Decentralization in the form community-based monitoring of biodiversity in Cambodia can be efficient, but has great potential for improvement. Another study in Cambodia has shown, however, that participation in community-based conservation can still be hampered by lack of trust as a legacy of Khmer rouge rule. Lack of involvement of residents in a major national park in Bhutan has resulted in lack of concern for natural resources and in damage to forest resources. A comparison of centralized and decentralized approaches to soil conservation, also in Bhutan, has demonstrated to clear advantage of the decentralized approach.
(3) Climate change adaptation
A1 comparative assessment of climate observations of local farmers and official records in Nepal has shown that capacity of farmers to observe and recall climate change correctly over longer time periods. It has also provided evidence for their capacity to adjust to these changes within limits imposed by lacking institutional support and short-term planning.
(4) Wild natural resources
Wild resources such as firewood and other NTFPs as well as aquatic animals can make an important contribution to local livelihoods. A study in a very remote region of Nepal has shown that wild plants are an important source of food during food-scarce months and that collecting and selling medicinal plants provides an important supplementary income. Availability of the resources is, however, endangered by unregulated and unsustainable collecting. Recommendations were made for domesticating key species and cultivating them on fallow land. A study in Cambodia has demonstrated the important contribution of wild aquatic plants and animals and the need to include them into community management.

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