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Motuo Road 10 Years On: Biodiversity hotspot in Xizang attracts young researchers
update:November 06,2023
Nov. 6, 2023 -- Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary since the completion of a road connecting a once-isolated county to Motuo, in the southeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. We bring you CGTN's three-part series on Motuo's transformation over the past decade. Our reporter Guo Tianqi joins a research team to explore its biodiversity.
From the towering Namjbarwa peak in the eastern Himalayas to the depths of the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Motuo experiences a rapid altitude drop of 7,000 meters within a distance of just 50 kilometers.
With water vapor from the Indian Ocean creating a northernmost monsoon rainforest, this unique geographical setting covers a range of vertical climatic zones, and boasts an array of pristine forests, making it a botanist's paradise.
This is Li Meng's eighth visit to Motuo. On this fallen tree, he finds an epiphyte plant.
LI MENG Associate Professor, Nanjing Forestry University "This forest is full of orchids and Cyathea from the age of the dinosaurs, which are also representative of Motuo's biodiversity. Our main task this time is to monitor their populations."
Our destination is Buqun Lake, the heart of biodiversity in southern Tibet. To conduct a shoreline survey, we embark on a four-hour trek through the forest.
GUO TIANQI Motuo County, Xizang "Now it's about 1,000 meters above the sea level, we just started for 20 minutes, they say it's just the warm up.
"Here are more deciduous trees as we ascending the mountain, and the altitude is about 1,400 meters, let's keep going."
Usually researchers walk for one-kilometer along the shore to record all the species, while using drones to observe hard-to-reach places.
QIU YONGLING Researcher, Chengdu Institute of Biology Chinese Academy of Sciences "The light, temperature and humidity are perfect for ferns. I've already published three new species in Motuo."
The natural gene pool here also draws young researchers. The Shan Shui Conservation Center, based at Peking University, has set up an observation center in Motuo for the past three years.
WEI CHUNYUE Staff, Shanshui Conservation Center "The roads, definitely makes the transportation more convenient and we as conservationists and also as researchers we can go into Motuo more conveniently.
"Professor Lv Zhi, the founder Shanshui Conservation Center, she went to Motuo in the 1990s, and she worked for a week to go into Motuo and also to Gelin Village. And now I can get here in just one day from Nyingchi."
Motuo's motto is that it's home to the "whole world."
Beyond plants and the diverse climates, it hosts eight species of large predators, one more than the African savanna.
With road improvements and enhanced infrastructure, more surprises are likely, for more and more people.
GUO TIANQI, CGTN, Motuo, Xizang Autonomous Region.

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