Who will save the thirsty cities? A study conducted by the Beijing University Nature Protection and Social Development center reveals one possible answer: the water reservation forest.

What is a water reservation forest? And makes it so magical?

In southeastern China, the earth is generally composed of loose, sandy soil. However, the roots of the trees will keep the sandy soil together, while water is retained in the gaps. Vapor from the Pacific and Indian Oceans is stopped by the mountain forest, which is more than 2,000 meters above sea level and is thus trapped on a mountaintop, leading it to be dubbed the “mountaintop reservoir”. However, were it not for the forest the area would be highly prone to mudslides and soil erosion.

The Yuanyang-Hani Rice Terrace, located in the Ailao Mountains, is a good example of such an ecosystem. Lacking a proper reservoir, the springs, streams and water falls from the natural mountaintop reservoir bring sufficient water to the Rice Terrace.

This type of ecosystem is not unique to China, Japan is also famous for its Laurisilva, an important part of its ecosystems. Some studies have shown that, Laurisilva, or the so called “Laurel forest”, is an indispensable part of Japanese culture. Some Japanese anthropologist even believed that Laurisilva culture is the origin of Japanese culture. Good preservation makes Japanese laurisilva one of the best protected subtropical forests in the world.

Unfortunately, many virgin forests and rice terraces are being replaced with rubber plantations and banana plantations. These mono cultures and young forests can hardly serve the same function as their predecessors in the ecosystems.

Source: Financial Times

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