China Regional Climate Centre
Earthwatch is undertaking a comprehensive forest research programme looking at the impacts of climate change on forests. This Climate Centre is one of five global research centres.
Subtropical forests cover a quarter of the total area in China. However, over 95 per cent, of these forests are either secondary forest (forests which have re-grown after a major disturbance) or plantation forests; and as such their response to climate change is likely to differ from that of primary forests that show fewer signs of disturbance. Therefore, research is urgently needed to determine how these forests’ ability to act as carbon pools is affected by climate change. Such research will then serve to inform future forest management practices.
The China Regional Climate Centre, opened in 2009, is located in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve which is located in Kai Hua County, at the extreme west of Zhejiang Province, East China. The Reserve was formed in 1975, in the Yangtze River basin. Over 1400 species of seed plants have been recorded in the Reserve and the vegetation is representative of typical subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest.
At this site Earthwatch is working with The Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS). They are a renowned research centre for plant sciences in China, having been actively engaged in research on terrestrial ecosystems for more than 20 years and much of their work is used as a direct resource base for the Chinese Government’s environmental protection and management policies. Gutianshan contains a large forest dynamics plotbelonging to the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network (CForBio), which has close partnership with the Center for Tropical Forest Studies (CTFS).
The research project at the China Regional Climate Centre aims to compare how different forest types respond to climate change. This will include establishing 12 monitoring plots which cover a range of forest types and will be monitored over the long-term to detect changes in forest structure and responses associated with carbon pools.
This research will enable more effective conservation approaches (both cost and biodiversity wise) to be adopted within this region and other regions of China, and potentially within other countries around the world. Results from this research will be included in scientific papers which will be published internationally, thus contributing to global knowledge on climate change, carbon pools, forest management and impacts of humans on the environment.
Learn more about this programme and Earthwatch's role in the HSBC Climate Partnership.