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South of the Colorful Clouds

CALS grad students are having amazing adventures and doing good work in China’s Yunnan province, home to some of the world’s most remote and distinctive ecological communities. CALS is leading a UW-Chinese collaboration that aims to explore ways to preserve biodiversity and foster sustainable livelihoods in the area.

Each of the nineteen UW grad students involved has a great story to tell. Mary Saunders went to learn how the traditions of an ethnic minority serve to preserve the seeds of a native plant. Jodi Brandt went to document how much the forests of Northwest Yunnan had recovered from the widespread cutting ordered 55 years ago by Mao Tse Tung. John Zinda is concerned about how tourism is changing the livelihoods and affecting biodiversity. James Burnham has tried to clarify how human activities affect black-necked cranes.

This is pretty cool stuff, especially considering that not long ago, this region of great river gorges, sweeping grasslands and majestic Himalayan mountains was virtually inaccessible to outsiders. To learn more, see South of the Colorful Clouds in the latest issue of Grow magazine.