Trees for the Yangtze River: Watershed management and ecosystem rehabilitation in Sichuan Province, China

Trees for the Yangtze River: Watershed management and ecosystem rehabilitation in Sichuan Province, China (WAMEC) (2004-2006)

Researcher in charge: Prof. Olavi Luukkanen
Principal researcher:
M.Sc. Ping ZHOU
Period: 2004–2006
Funding source: Academy of Finland
Partners: Chengdu Institute of Biology (CIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Beijing Forestry University

Collaborating partners and advisors

University of Helsinki

  • Dept. of Forest Ecology / VITRI, coordinator (Prof. Olavi Luukkanen)
  • Dept. of Forest Resources Management (Prof. Timo Tokola)
  • Dept. of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology (Dr Kristina Lindström)


  • Chinese Academy of Sciences/Chengdu Institute of Biology (Director, Prof. Chunyang Li)
  • Sichuan Agricultural University, Yaan (Prof. Xiaoping Zhang)
  • Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF)/Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Beijing (RIFEEP; Institute Director Prof. Shirong Liu)
  • Beijing Forestry University (Prof. Jijue Li)


The overall aim is to analyze the processes of land degradation and rehabilitation of the Minjiang river watershed of the upper Yangtze River system in Sichuan province (which provides the irrigation water for the whole central Sichuan rice cultivation plains), and to provide new management tools based on scientific research especially related to the role of trees in watershed conservation and management and in farmland rehabilitation.

Another aim is to model the ecological processes, particularly the woody plant succession, of fragmented forest ecosystems at different stages of degradation and rehabilitation over altitudinal and soil type gradients; the emphasis was on the middle and lower altitudes, and special attention is given to rehabilitation of lands degraded because of overgrazing.

Land-use policies in China which encourage resettlement of farmer communities
from fragile watershed areas were discussed, and recommendations were made for
cost-efficient rehabilitation of degraded lands. Finally, a general aim is to strengthen the Finnish-Chinese research cooperation on the basis of more than ten years of joint research and doctoral student training already done at VITRI in Helsinki.


  • A. National woody-vegetation succession and restoration in forested watershed
  • B. Plantation forest management and utilization as a mean of watershed rehabilitation
  • C. Modelling of ecosystem dynamics based on GIS information and tree species


Zhou, P., Nieminen, J., Tokola, T., Luukkanen, O. & Oliver, T. 2006. Large scale soil erosion modeling for a mountainous watershed. Geo-Environment & Landscape Evolution II, Martin-Duque, J.F et al., eds. pp: 55-67. Abstract

Zhou, P. Luukkanen, O., Nieminen, J. & Tokola, T. 2006. Soil erosion modelling and risk analysis for a mountainous watershed. Nordic GIS Conference. pp: 112-115.

Luukkanen, O. & Zhou P. 2005. “Management strategies for forests and watersheds in the Upper Yangtze River basin, Sichuan, China”. ETFRN news “Forests, Water and Livelihoods” No. 45-46: 65-67.

Zhou, P., Luukkanen, O.& Tokola, T. 2005. “Vegetation dynamics and rehabilitation strategy in the Upper Minjiang River watershed, China ”. The World Conference on Ecological Restoration. pp: 173-174.

Zhou, P. 2008. Landscape-scale Soil Erosion Modelling and Ecological Restoration for a Mountainous Watershed in Sichuan, China. Doctoral Dissertation. Viikki Tropical Resources Institute. Dept. of Forest Ecology, University of Helsinki. Full text