Animal and Plant in Yunnan
Just like a treasure house depicted in fairy tales, Yunnan was endowed by the Creator with abundant natural resources, including rich mineral reserves, rare animals and plants, many rivers and lakes, and a mild climate with abundant precipitation. Therefore, it is often called “the Kingdom of Animals”, “the Kingdom of Plants” and “the Kingdom of Nonferrous Metals”.
Gene Bank of Animals and Plants
Since the Mesozoic Era, the geological movement in Yunnan has been relatively stable, and the movement of glaciers in ancient times had little effect on the land. As a result, Yunnan has become a safe haven where a number of animals and plants have sought asylum and some ancient and rare species have made their homes. Yunnan is home to animals and plants from alpine, temperate, sub-tropical and tropical zones because of its widely diverse topography. Although the area of Yunnan only accounts for 4.1 percent of China’s total, it has the greatest number of species of animals of any province in China.1,704 species of vertebrate animals can be found here, accounting for55 per cent of China’s total of 3,099 species, of which 200 endangered and rare species have been put under first class national protection. These include Asian elephants, wild oxen, Yunnan golden monkeys, gibbons, hornbills, etc. Rough statistics show that China is home to approximately150,000 kinds of insects, of which Yunnan has around 90,000 kinds.
Yunnan also has the greatest number of plant species in China. China is home to over30,000 plant species, Yunnan has 18,000 species,62.8 per cent of the total. Up to now there are only families of gymnosperm around the world,10 of which can be found in Yunnan. Among the rare plants growing in Yunnan some are ancient species, which scientists term “living fossils”. Yunnan also has over 10,000species of algae and fungus, and numerous micro-organisms.
Rich Biological Resources
There are more than 1,000 plant species being cultivated in Yunnan, of which900 species are of high economic value and can be directly marketed. Yunnan boasts rich wild plant resources which provide excellent plant breeding stock.
Yunnan has a total of 9.533million hectares of forest, ranking fourth in China, and has1.366billion cubic meters of live timber, accounting for14.2 percent of the country’s total, and ranking third in China. The forests in Yunnan may be divided into 105 categories, covering almost all of the tropical, temperate and frigid zone types. Growing here are over 4,000 species of xerophytes and 800 varieties of trees. About300 kinds are on the list of cash-generating trees. Moreover, Yunnan has great potential for the development of forestry by-products.
Yunnan is regarded in medical circles as a storehouse of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. More than 2,000 species of herbs including 400 species which are the raw materials of traditional Chinese medicine grow in the Province. Pseudo-ginseng, Gastrodia elata, reticulate millettia, the bark of eucommia, the rhizome of Chinese goldthread and licorice root are of especially high quality. In recent years, some herbs, which China’s pharmaceutical industry had been importing from tropical countries in the past, have been discovered growing in Yunnan.
Yunnan ranks first in China for growing spice crops. There are 400 species from 69 plant families ranging from the pine family, cypress family, camphorwood family to the rarely-seen lily magnolia family. They provide abundant resources for developing the food and cosmetic industries. The province is well-known for being a “flower kingdom”, where flowers seem never to fade and the spring-like weather lasts for the whole 365 days every year. Among the 2,100 species of ornamental plants growing in Yunnan, there are 1,500 flowering species. The scarlet camellia, the azalea, the primula, the gentian, the lily, the magnolia, the cymbidium and the macropedia known as the eight famous flowers of Yunnan.