The Tibetan Plateau (TP), covers an area over 2.5 million km2, stretching from the Pamir and Hindu Kush in the west to the Hengduan Mountains in the east, and from the Kunlun and Qilian mountains in the north to the Himalayas in the south, provides water resources for nearly 40% of the world’s population. It is also a hotspot for biodiversity conservation and its fragile ecosystem is very vulnerable to human disturbance.
In this study, Prof. ZHANG Yili and his team at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, mapped the human influence intensity (HII) in the TP for 1990–2010 at county and 1 km scales, and analyzed its characteristics within valuable regions for water retention and biodiversity conservation, employing four categories of human pressures.
The results showed that HII of the TP at the two scales was low overall. The eastern and southeastern TP and the central of Tibet Autonomous Region had high HII, while most counties/grids in the western TP had low HII.
During twenty years, HII at county and 1 km scales increased by 28.43% and 31.45% respectively, which is three times more than of the global level of 9% for 1993–2009.
" The HII for water retention regions increased by 37.42% which is greater than 28.52% for the TP. It suggested that more effective measures are need to be implemented here for conservation of water supply ", said the Prof. ZHANG.
The related study has been published in the journal of Ecosystem Services (Li Shicheng, Zhang Yili, Wang Zhaofeng, Li Lanhui.Mapping human influence intensity in the Tibetan Plateau for conservation of ecological service functions. Ecosystem Services, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.10.003).