Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Stanley F. Stevens

Second Advisor

Kent Mathewson

Abstract

The Wuyi-Daiyun Mountains, which form the core of China's Southeast Uplands Region, support a mosaic of subtropical forest, grassland, and cropland habitats, with some 1,620 species of plants and 326 species of terrestrial vertebrates. Forty-two animal species are officially protected, including the highly endangered South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis). This study, based on one year of field research, examines relationships between village land use, landscape change, and wildlife management in the Meihuashan Nature Reserve of Southwest Fujian. It includes comparative studies of reserves in Longxishan and Wuyishan, further north, and Daiyunshan, to the east. Over 500 local gazetteer records of tiger attacks from 48-1953 A.D. provide baseline data on long-term anthropogenic environmental impacts in four provinces of the southeast. Habitat utilization surveys of five ungulate species in ten habitat types show how land use patterns affect prey densities. Intensive research in five Meihuashan villages examines historical settlement, demography, land use patterns, hunting practices, household economies, bamboo forest management, paper production, and village fengshui (geomantic) systems. Until the 1980s, Meihuashan villages produced and traded bamboo paper. Local prosperity led to population expansion in the mid-to-late Qing (1644-1911), and some villages grew to five times their present sizes. Extensive wet rice agriculture and widespread burning, the latter of which enhanced the growth of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) rhizomes (a starchy dietary staple), kept the upland region largely deforested for centuries. The chaos of the early twentieth century brought population decline, rice terrace abandonment, and partial reforestation. Reforestation increased after burning was outlawed in the 1950s, but technological, commercial, and political changes intensified the extermination of regional fauna. Logging of Cunninghamia lanceolata in the 1980s also had a dramatic impact on montane ecosystems. Nature conservation should include maintenance of sacred fengshui forests; increased protection and restoration of remote broadleaf forests, montane wetlands, and montane grasslands; containment and intensification of commercial bamboo production under more equitable tenurial systems; and promotion of sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry. These efforts will be greatly enhanced when local people have a greater role in reserve management, research, and commerce.

ISBN

9780591997705

Pages

677

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