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Buddhist monasteries facilitated landscape conservation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Cui, Naixin; Wu, Tong; Wang, Yichen; Zou, Huiting; Axmacher, Jan; Sang, Weiguo; Guo, Luo; (2022) Buddhist monasteries facilitated landscape conservation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Landscape Ecology , 37 pp. 1559-1572. 10.1007/s10980-022-01443-7. Green open access

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Context: The Sanjiangyuan region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau—also known as the “Three Rivers’ Headwaters”—is the origin of the Yellow, Yangtze, and Mekong Rivers and therefore the key water source for hundreds of millions of downstream residents. Protecting this region’s ecosystems is a key priority for sustainable development in China and Asia. An important social dimension of Sanjiangyuan is the long-established and widespread presence of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly as manifested in the large number of monasteries throughout the region. However, the influence of cultural factors on environmental change remains largely understudied here. / Objective: We focus on two types of spatial associations—point-point and point-area features—to quantitatively investigate the effects of Buddhist monasteries on land use/cover change (LUCC) in surrounding landscapes. / Methods: We conduct a spatially-explicit analysis of Sanjiangyuan for two periods, 1990–2000 and 2010–2015, to identify and quantify the influence of the presence and spatial distributions of Buddhist monasteries on LUCC compared to village communities that lack monasteries. / Results: We found that the presence of monasteries is highly correlated with the preservation of natural ecosystems, specifically of grasslands and forests. Within monastery buffer zones with radii between 1 and 10 km, 7.13–9.30% more grassland area and 7.14–7.47% more forest area remained around monasteries compared to villages. This contrast decreased with increasing distance to the monastery/village. Overall, built-up areas were also much smaller around monasteries than around villages, while unused land was more commonly transformed to forests and grasslands around monasteries. / Conclusions: These findings strongly support the idea that Buddhist culture, as manifested through its physical institutions and communities, are instrumental in achieving desired landscape conservation outcomes.

Type: Article
Title: Buddhist monasteries facilitated landscape conservation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10980-022-01443-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-022-01443-7
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visithttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Buddhist monasteries, Landscape conservation, Land use cover change, Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147431
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