Natural Resource

Panda, Chengdu, China
cWhen describing China's cultivated land and mineral resources, people often use many huge numbers. Cultivated land, forests, grasslands, deserts and tidelands are distributed widely across China. Cultivated land is mainly located in east China, grasslands are mainly located in the north and west, and forests mainly in the remote northeastern and southwestern areas.
 
In China today, 130.04 million ha of land are cultivated, mainly on the Northeast Plain, the North China Plain, the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain, the Pearl River Delta and the Sichuan Basin. The fertile black soil of the Northeast Plain, the largest plain in China with an area of more than 350,000 sq km, abounds in wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, flax and sugarbeet. The deep, brown topsoil of the North China Plain is planted with wheat, corn, millet and cotton. The Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain's flat terrain and many lakes and rivers make it particularly suitable for paddy rice and freshwater fish, hence its designation of "land of fish and rice." This area also produces large quantities of tea and silkworms. The purplish soil of the warm and humid Sichuan Basin is green with crops in all four seasons, including paddy rice, rapeseed and sugarcane, making it known as the "land of plenty." The Pearl River Delta abounds with paddy rice, harvested 2-3 times every year.
 
Plant
 
Spruce, Lijiang, Yuannan, China
China is also one of the countries with the most abundant plant life in the world. There are more than 32,000 species of higher plants, and almost all the major plants that grow in the northern hemisphere's frigid, temperate and tropical zones are represented in China. In addition, there are more than 7,000 species of woody plants, including 2,800-odd tree species. The metasequoia, Chinese cypress, Cathay silver fir, China fir, golden larch, Taiwan fir, Fujian cypress, dove-tree, eucommia and camplotheca acuminata are found only in China. The metasequoia, a tall species of arbor, is considered to be one of the oldest and rarest plants in the world. The golden larch, one of only five species of rare garden trees in the world, grows in the mountainous areas in the Yangtze River valley. Its coin-shaped leaves on short branches are green in spring and summer, turning yellow in autumn. China is home to more than 2,000 species of edible plants and over 3,000 species of medicinal plants. Ginseng from the Changbai Mountains, safflowers from Tibet, Chinese wolfberry from Ningxia and notoginseng from Yunnan and Guizhou are particularly well-known Chinese herbal medicines. China has a wide variety of flowering plants; the peony, a flower indigenous to China and known as the "king of flowers" is characterized by large blossoms, multiple petals and bright colors, and is treasured as one of the country's national flowers.
 
Golden Monkey of Mt. Qingling, Xian
Forests cover only 175 million ha of China. The Greater Hinggan, Lesser Hinggan and Changbai mountain ranges in the northeast are China's largest natural forest areas. Major tree species found here include conifers, such as Korean pine, larch and Olga Bay larch, and coniferous-broadleaf trees such as white birch, oak, willow, elm and Northeast China ash. Major tree species in the southwest include the dragon spruce, fir and Yunnan pine, as well as teak, red sandalwood, camphor, nanmu and padauk. Often called a kingdom of plants," Xishuangbanna in the south of Yunnan Province is a rare tropical broadleaf forest area in China, playing host to more than 5,000 plant species.
 
Grassland, Inner Mongolian
Grasslands in China cover an area of 400 million ha, stretching more than 3,000 km from the northeast to the southwest. They are the centers of animal husbandry. The Inner Mongolian Prairie is China's largest natural pastureland, and home to the famous Sanhe horses, Sanhe cattle and Mongolian sheep. The important natural pasturelands north and south of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang are ideal for stockbreeding. The famous Ili horses and Xinjiang fine-wool sheep are raised here.
 
China's cultivated lands, forests and grasslands are among the world's largest in terms of sheer area. But due to China's large population, the per-capita areas of cultivated land, forest and grassland are small, especially in the case of cultivated land -- only one third of the world's average.
 
Wild Animal
 
Crested Ibis, Mt. Qingling, Xian
China is one of the countries with the greatest diversity of wildlife in the world. There are more than 6,266 species of vertebrates, 10 percent of the world's total. Among them 2,404 are terrestrials and 3,862 fishes. There are more than 100 wild animal species unique to China including such well-known rare animals as the giant panda, golden-haired monkey, South China tiger, brown-eared pheasant, red-crowned crane, red ibis, white-flag dolphin and Chinese alligator. The black-and-white giant panda weighs on average 135 kg and lives on tender bamboo leaves and bamboo shoots. Because it is extremely rare --just over 1,500 are left at present -- it has become the symbol of the world's protected wild animals. The red-crowned crane, that could be as tall as 1.2 m, is covered with white feathers, with a distinctive patch of exposed red skin crowning its head and is regarded as a symbol of longevity in East Asia. The white-flag dolphin is one of only two species of freshwater whales in the world. In 1980, a male white-flag dolphin was caught for the first time in the Yangtze River, which aroused great interest among dolphin researchers worldwide.