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Major ecology conference opens in Chengdu
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By John Sexton

Over 200 environmental scientists, including more than 80 from overseas, gathered Tuesday in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, for a major international ecology conference.

Environmental scientists gather in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, for the sixth international conference on Landscape Ecology and Forest Management, September 16-22, 2008.

The sixth international Landscape Ecology and Forest Management conference was organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, in cooperation with the International Association of Landscape Ecology.

Key speakers included Dr Danny C. Lee and Dr Eric J. Gustafson of the US Department of Agriculture, Dr Michelle Gauthier of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Dr Fu Bojie of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

More than 200 academic papers were presented to the conference and over 90 papers will be presented and discussed in three days of symposiums.

Landscape ecology is a relatively new branch of environmental science that has been boosted in recent years by the increasing availability of data derived from satellite imagery. Using satellite data as well as more traditional techniques of field sampling and interviews, landscape ecology attempts to discern large scale changes to landscape patterns and the underlying processes determining them. The science uses sophisticated computer-aided modeling techniques to analyze huge quantities of data and project developments far into the future, allowing scientists to evaluate hypotheses regarding the effects of global warming and human activities on the natural environment.

The conference is a boost to Chengdu’s hotel and conferencing business which suffered badly in the wake of the May 12 earthquake that claimed more than 70,000 lives in Sichuan. Although the urban area of Chengdu was undamaged in the quake, visitor numbers and hotel bookings dropped dramatically in its aftermath. City bosses have organized a major publicity campaign using local and national celebrities to reassure tour organizers and visitors that Chengdu is safe for both business trips and tourism.

On Friday September 19 the conference delegates will leave for a three day field trip to the famous Sichuan scenic areas of Mount Emei, Leshan and Bifengxia. Sichuan’s tourism chiefs said last month that the overwhelming majority of the province’s tourist attractions and destinations are operating normally.

(China.org.cn September 17, 2008)

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