How pristine are China's parks?
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We map and analyse the Human Footprint Index at 1 km scale for 1834 terrestrial Nature Reserves of mainland China. There are fewer, larger, more pristine reserves in the colder, drier, less densely-populated pastoral areas of the north and west; and more numerous, smaller, more heavily modified reserves in the warmer, wetter, more densely populated arable agricultural areas of the south and east. This affects the degree of protection afforded to plant and animal species endemic to different ecosystems. Reserves designated at higher levels of governance are more pristine than lower levels, but with considerable overlap. This is significant as China considers possible reclassification of some reserves as national parks (IUCN category II protected areas). More pristine reserves are more likely to meet conservation criteria.
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
© 2016 Buckley, Zhou and Zhong. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Conservation and Biodiversity