3D survey method helps wildlife protection in China's world heritage site

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Chinese researchers are using a new visualized survey to monitor and conserve biodiversity in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a UNESCO world heritage site in southwest China.

The new method, dubbed 3D-map-based interview survey, is an effective tool to collect local knowledge on biological information over large areas that is followed by field investigation and data analysis, said Xiao Wen, head of the Institute of Eastern-Himalaya Biodiversity Research at Dali University.

Based on 3D satellite images showing visualized terrain information, interviewees could point out the location of the rare wild animals they had observed. Records were taken to obtain dynamic data of their distribution and population.

Researchers then made predictions and evaluations on the habitats of endangered species using remote sensing, and gave suggestions and protection measures.

More than 30 large research projects have been carried out since 2016 in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas to monitor and protect local wild animals, including the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, the Yunnan golden hair monkey, the snow leopard, and the Mishmi takin.

A long-term ecological monitoring network has taken shape in the world heritage site.

Covering 1.7 million hectares, the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas features sections of the upper reaches of three rivers that originated from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau -- the Jinsha, Lancang and Nujiang rivers running roughly parallel.

Taking up less than 0.4 percent of China's territory, the site is habitat to more than 20 percent of higher plants and a quarter of animal species in the country. It is an epicenter of Chinese biodiversity and one of the richest temperate regions of the world in terms of biodiversity.

The monitoring network also helps curtail poaching in the region since infrared cameras have been set up in key areas in the wild.

"It is necessary to have innovative technologies and research methods, and carry out long-term systematic in-situ scientific monitoring," Xiao said.

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