Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

The Upstream Region MA of the Great Rivers, Northwest Yunnan, China


This assessment will be conducted in the Great Rivers region, covering an area of 60,000 km2 in Northwest Yunnan, China. This includes the headwaters of the Irrawaddy river, Salween River, Lancang-Mekong River, Red River, and the Yangtze River.

Lead institution

The Asian International Rivers center, Yunnan University.

Contact information:

  • Dr. Daming He
    Professor and Director
    Asian International Rivers Center
    Yunnan University
    512 Science Hall
    2 North Road of the Green Lake,
    Kunming, Yunnan 650091
    Phone: 86-871-503-4577
    Fax: 86-871-503-4577

Focal issues

Key issues that will be addressed in this assessment are forest coverage decrease, fragmentation of forest ecosystems, decreasing natural products from forest ecosystems, biodiversity loss, the impacts of disasters, environmental poverty, water pollution and supply and soil degradation.

Ecosystem services being assessed

Provisioning: timber, mushrooms, fuel, medicine, food, water.

Other services: soil erosion control, biodiversity, cultural.

Key features of assessment

The transition area from the Tibetan Plateau to the Yunnan Plateau represents one of the world’s important biodiversity hotspots. There are 14 different ethnic groups living in this region where there is a lot of poverty. There is a difference of 6000m from the highest peak to the deepest gorge. Factors contributing to the threats on the region:

  • 60% of the land is in high mountain area (higher than 3,000m), cold and steep, thin soil, plant growth and slow vegetation succession.
  • 15% of the land is in hot and dry river valleys, with low vegetation coverage and which is difficult to restore.
  • Large amount of the population lives low on the mountains and in valleys; heavily exploit environmental resources.
  • Fragile ecosystem and biodiversity.
  • Un-suitable land and resource use methods.

Timeframe, budget

All assessments and reports will be finished by the end of 2004. Funding is being drawn from the development Planning Committee, the Forestry Department, environment Protection Bureau of the government, The Nature Conservancy.