1. Diverse Ecosystems
This landscape is unique in a sense that it stretches almost 600km from north to south and covers a large variety of ecosystems, from the snowy alpine meadows of the Himalayas to the subtropical forests of Xishuangbanna.
2. Biodiversity Hotspot
The Mekong Headwaters harbours much of China's biodiversity, with Yunnan Province being designated a "Center of Plant Diversity" by IUCN and a "Global 200 List Priority Ecoregion" by WWF.
3. Hydropower Cascades
With Yunnan being considered a "water tower", the Upper Mekong Basin's hydropower potential is systematically realized to supply the east coast of China with energy.
4. Rubber Expansion
The southern part of the Mekong Headwaters has seen an unprecedented expansion of rubber plantations during the past 30 years. This has been at the expense of pristine forests and biodiversity and has also impacted the area's water regime.
5. Leveraging Tourism for Conservation
The eco- and ethno-tourism potential of this area is well recognized by local authorities and the protection of related natural assets (forest, ethnic villages) is increasingly reflected in their strategic planning processes.
6. Advanced Strategic Planning
In recent years, provincial authorities have spearheaded the integratation of environmental considerations into strategic planning processes, with Strategic Environmental Assessments now being mandatory and well-enforced.