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Protection versus culture-driven exploitation of wild plant resources: the case on Changbai Mountain

Qu, Baihong, Li, Wei, Chen, Yanqiu, Liu, Jisheng
international journal of sustainable development and world ecology 2011 v.18 no.5 pp. 404-411
biodiversity, conservation areas, economic valuation, food crops, forest trees, herbal medicines, medicinal plants, mixed forests, tourism, tourists, wild plants, wilderness, China
Under Chinese culture it is believed that herbal medicine is always safe and wild food is always healthy. Generally, the rarer a plant, the higher its value. The booming economy in China has promoted tourism development in wilderness areas and wild medicinal and food plants are part of the attraction to tourists. Conflicts between wild plant exploitation and protection have emerged in many parts of China, such as Changbai Mountain. Changbai Mountain supports numerous medicinal and food plants but many have become rare and endangered. This paper numerically evaluates 30 plant species that have relatively high conservation value for each type (medicinal, ornamental and food), and briefly describes the uses of four to five top ranked species per type that need more protection on Changbai Mountain. This paper also addresses some tree species with important timber values on Changbai Mountain. Over 90% of China's medicinal, ornamental and food plant species, as well as valuable timber trees are found in the conifer–broadleaf mixed forest zone across the boundary of Changbai Mountain Nature Reserve. It is a major challenge to protect the native biodiversity of mixed forest on Changbai Mountain and more efforts need to be made to protect rare and endangered plant species with high economic value.