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New book details the biological and cultural diversity of Khawa Karpo, sacred mountain of Tibet
Date:12/12/2012

lies within the Menri mountain range that straddles the border of Tibet and Yunnan in southwest China, where alpine and temperate systems of the Tibetan Plateau meet the subtropical and tropical systems of Southeast Asia. A unique combination of factors including rainfall patterns and physical relief contribute to its being the most biologically-diverse temperate ecosystem on Earth. The area (known as "Medicine Mountains" by Tibetans) is celebrated both for its sacred geography and its abundance of plants used in traditional Tibetan medicine. It is recognized as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site.

The golden monkey, giant panda, red panda, blue sheep and many pheasants are among the animal species endemic to this region. Plants are an integral part of Tibetan life and culture. Snow lotus, blue poppies and corydalis are among the genera of plants found in these mountains, as are wild relatives of common garden plants like peonies, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and lilacs.

Recent regional, national and international policies and economic developments are bringing rapid change to the region. Economic development is capitalizing on the natural and cultural resources of the Khawa Karpo area. The development of mining, non-timber products and agricultural products is increasing, as is tourism. These threats to biodiversity are now evident. Large cats (including the snow leopard) and ungulates are endangered; many rare and endemic plants are threatened. Populations of plants harvested for medicine and horticulture are declining.

The influx of Chinese and Western culture is also influencing traditional Tibetan culture. As religion, culture and language evolve and transform, traditions deteriorate, and with them the traditional ecological knowledge on which the area's biodiversity dependthus threatening biodiversity.

"The rich biodiversity under threat drew The Nature Conservancy to K
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Contact: Katie O'Sullivan
pr@mobot.org
314-577-0254
Missouri Botanical Garden
Source:Eurekalert

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