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Expert Introduction ▏JIANG Zhongcheng: Making Karst Rocky Desertification Treatment More International

Published Time:2020-11-17


Treating karst rocky desertification of the southwestern region of China, an important aspect of environmental protection and social and economic development of China, has also become crucial for developing the forest industry in recent years.

JIANG Zhongcheng, expert at National Innovation Alliance for Karst Rocky Desertification Treatment of Southwest China, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, has enriched study of karstareas through developing theories and treatment technologies of rocky desertification, which provides scientific support to and sets a good example for comprehensive treatment of rocky desertification nationwide. Dr. JIANG—devoted himself to prevention and treatment of soil leakage of karst areas—has solved water shortage due to lack of conservancy facilities in these areas by investigation and study. He also helps local people with drinking water by developing theories and technologies for soil leakage prevention and treatment at karst areas in southwest China. Besides, he has made contributions to increasing China’s influence on combating climate change by conducting research on the carbon sink effect of karst areas. Dr. JIANG, based on his scientific and systematic view of the Earth, has facilitated international cooperation on comparative study of global karst geology, increased China’s influence on karst area study worldwide, and improved treatment of karst rocky desertification and thus people’s wellbeing.


JIANG Zhongcheng, male, from Yongzhou city, Hunan province, is currently a second-level researcher, a doctoral supervisor, and Deputy Director, Secretary of the Party Committee, and Director of the Academic Committee of Institute of Karst Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. He is also the chairman of ISOTC319,an academic member of the UNESCO International Karst Research Centre and a foreign academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences.He is Director of the Key Laboratory of Karst Ecosystem and Rocky Desertification Treatment of the Ministry of Natural Resources, a permanent member of CNSC, and a member of Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences (CSES). He is a chief communication expert in karst of China Association for Science and Technology, chief communication expert of the Ministry of Natural Resources, chief communication expert of China Geological Survey. He is an editor-in-chief forChina Karst and part-time professorof China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), Guangxi University, Guilin University of Technology and Nanning Normal University. He islisted in the first batch of leading science and technology talents of the Ministry of Land and Resources, Guangxi “Bagui Scholars” and Guilin Top Talents. He has completed more than 40 scientific research projects at national, provincial and ministerial levels. He is currently the chief scientist of the “Global Karst” international science plan and of the international Earth science plan IGCP661.Dr JIANG has published 18 monographs, over 280 papers at home and abroad, and won 6 invention patents. He was invited to give more than 20 academic reports at international academic conferences and won 15 national, provincial and ministerial scientific and technological achievement awards (five first prizes included).

01 THEORETICAL CONTRIBUTION—Enriching Ecological Study of Karst Areas and Establishing Theories and Comprehensive Treatment Technologies of Rocky Desertification

Dr JIANG successfully developed the pitaya industry of Shishan area in Guohua Demonstration Zone in 2003

In his specific research, JIANG Zhongcheng started with the karst dynamic system driving the migration of elements between rocks, water, soil and plants, and therefore revealed the correlation between the karst process and the ecological environment and the characteristics and distribution of plant species and laidtheoretical foundation for expanding karst geology to ecology. He has enriched karst ecology study through establishment of Karst Ecology Research Office of the Karst Institute, the Key Laboratory of Karst Ecosystem and Rocky Desertification Treatment of the Ministry of Land and Resources (now the Ministry of Natural Resources), as well as programmes of Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences to enrolmasters,Ph.D. and post-doctorsof Karst Ecology.

He led China’s first National Natural Science Foundation Project on rocky desertification, “Research on the Correlation between Rocky Desertification Process and Epikarst Water Cycle in Liupanshui Karst Mountains, Guizhou (1999-2001)”, and proposed the scientific concept of rocky desertification, revealing the natural and artificial causes and the dynamicfor rocky desertification. Dr. JIANG set up a system for investigating and evaluating rocky desertification and took the lead in clarifying the size and evolution of rocky desertification in southwest China, proposed scientific ideas and technologies for comprehensive management of rocky desertification, and participated in compiling and testing the Outline of Comprehensive Treatment for Karst Rocky Desertification (2006-2015), which greatly promoted China's rocky desertification research and implementation of national rocky desertification control.

Since the Tenth Five-Year Plan, Dr. JIANG has been continuously leading major national and Guangxi ecological projects. Based on investigations and studies, he built Guohua (Pingguo city, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, GZAR), Nongla (Mashan county, GZAR), Guzhou (Huanjiang county, GZAR) and other ecological demonstration areas. He created the “Nongla model” based on the ecological adaptability of different sites at karst areas—successfully turning rocky desertification areas into forests; he alsobuilt a karst ecological industry chain,increasingthe average annual net income of villagers to more than 100,000 yuan andcreating jobs for over 2,000 villagers in the area,which becomes a model for rural revitalization.He created a “model for planting fruit”, which is suitable for the peak cluster-peak forest composite ecosystem—screening out more than 50 indigenous plants in rocky desertification areas, artificially inducing vegetation restoration, developinga local Pitaya variety through pollination and graft of the nativeVileplume,and overcoming the obstacle of continuous cropping of Pitayaby utilization of water, soil and fertilizer. As a result, the fruit has high yields for 18 consecutive years, with an annual output value of 15,000 yuan/mu,which has driven 40,000 people out of poverty in Pingguo County and been spread to more than 200,000 mu in Baise area of GZAR.

02 PRACTICAL CONTRIBUTION—Solving Water Shortage due to Lack of Facilities in Karst Areas by Combining Investigation and Study

Dr JIANG successfully drilled karst underground wells in poor villages in Baise, GZAR and received many thank-you pennants

Forcompilation of the technical requirements for the 1:50,000 Hydrogeological Survey of Karst Areas in Southwest China, he, taking the karst basin as a unit, conducted the 1:50,000 hydrogeological survey of karst areasin southwestChina of ​​more than 200,000 square kilometers, identifieddistribution characteristicsof the underground river system of Nandong, and completedthe evaluation of groundwater resources in the river basin and karst areas in southwest China.Dr. JIANG established a groundwater and ecological environment information system of karst areas in southwestern Chinaand compiled a series of 1/one million maps, which provides a geological basis for national and regionalcomprehensive treatment plansfor rocky desertification.

He also took the lead in conducting investigations on China’s“epikarst zone”, revealing the structural characteristics of the epikarst zone and its function of regulating and storing karst water, and quantitatively evaluated the potential of regulating and storing epikarst water in different environments. He establisheddevelopment model and technologiesfor regulating and storing epikarst water and formed anintegrated engineering technology system: water source forest for regulation and storage—epikarst zone for water block and diversion—storage cellar—draining water for irrigation. Hehas successfully implemented over 20 projects of this kind in different karst environments, whichshows new technical approaches and demonstration models for solving water shortage in karst mountainous areas.

In practice, he led a research team to innovate groundwater detection and tracing technologies, breaking through the bottleneck of karst water engineering plugging and precise location selection; he used high-power comprehensive geophysical methods to determine physical properties, well positions, and water depth so as to find water, thusincreasing success rate of drilling wells in the district from the previous 30% to over 80%; he facilitated development projects of Baiyandong in Hunan province, Dalongdong Underground River, Fuliulang Karst Reservoir in GZAR, Jumu Underground River in Guizhou province, and Pijiazhai Karst Spring in Yunnan province, etc. anddeployed more than 90 well drilling projects,solving drinking water difficulties for more than 800,000 people. This has alsosolvedwater shortage of 15 million peoplein eight southwestern provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and played an important role in combating droughts.

03 PREVENTION AND TREATMENT—Developing Theories and Technologies for Preventing and Treating Soil Leakage in Karst Areas in Southwest China

Dr JIANG was studying soil leakage

He revealed the severity and particularity of karst areas of southwest Chinaby organizing an investigation of soil erosion and ecological safety in these areas. The surface erosion is mainly mild, but most areas have in fact no soil to lose,resulting in infertile land which once was arable. About 300,000 mu of arable land is lost every year,blockingthe underground river system, thus more serious flood in karst depressions and basins. He pointed out that the karst area in southwest China cannot use soil erosion modulus of 5000t/km2. a and adjusted it to 50 t/km2. a (Industry Standard: SL461-2009) as the standard for soil erosion area.Heset up 6 major soil and water conservation areas and proposed targeted measuresand major engineering suggestions forsoil erosion prevention and control. These scientific findings attracted great attention from the state and relevant departments. Since then, the state has listed the southwest karst area as a key area for soil erosion prevention and treatment andimplemented relevant projects.

Based on scientific findings andcharacteristics of surface-underground karst structures, Dr. JIANG established a theory of soil leakage in karst areas: clarifying the concept, control factors and processes of soil leakage, and creating a soil leakage investigation method and evaluation model combining scratch method, runoff method and isotope. He established soil leakage monitoring bases in Guohua, GZAR and Mengzi, Yunnan province, developed land consolidation technologies based on karst fissure repair in different karst environments, and soil leakage prevention and control technologies that combine soil conservation engineering by wall-building with biological fences and reasonable interplanting of economic crops. The implementation of planting fruit, Nongla land consolidation, and soil leakage prevention and control projects of more than 8,000 mu increased land utilization rate by 60% and decreased soil erosion modulus by 80%, which lead the progress in soil leakage prevention and control in karst areas.

04 TOOK THE LEAD—Making Contributions to Increasing China’s International Influence on Combating Global Climate Change

International Congress of Speleology held in Australia

In his previous research, Dr. JIANG took the lead in establishing 18 karst dynamic observation stations aroundChina in the 1990sand estimated China's karst carbon sinks withthe observation data. He implemented the geological survey plan “China Geological Carbon Sink Potential Research”(2010-2012): dividing China into southern karst areas, northern karst areas, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau karst areas and buried karst areas and using GIS technology to recalculate karst carbon in these four areas. It wasfound thatthere are 40 million t/a of China’s karst carbon sinks, which is an important progress in geology. Dr. JIANG’s Geological Survey Bureau Special Report was approved by the central leadership and the project's karst carbon sinks research progress was also published in Science, Volume 334, Issue 18 in 2011.

The experiment of increasing carbon sinks in Guohua Research Base shows that the karst carbon sink can be increased by 12.35t/km2.a under the soil in slope modification in a decade, in artificial forest land 8.77 t/km2.a in seven years, and in improvedsoil 2.86 t/km2.a in nine years. From this, it is estimated that the karst carbon sink effect of treatment of rocky desertification in southwest China, or ecological restoration, has increased karst carbon sink by about 25 million tons in this area, which is equivalent to 40% of the carbon sink of afforestation in the area.

Dr. JIANG’s work paid off. In 2014, when he represented Ministry of Land and Resources and took part in the Chinese expert review of the fifth report of IPCC, he provided scientific data of geological carbon sink and made geological carbon sink effect be officially included in IPCC report for the first time.

05 COOPERATION—Continuously Improving China’s International Status in Karst Study

Dr JIANG was giving a presentation at CCOP seminar in Hanoi, Vietnam

In his further work, afterparticipating in 5 international geological comparison projects (IGCP299, 379, 448, 512, 598), Dr JIANG led the IGCP661 project, established monitoring stations for typical karst key zones at home and abroad, and made important progress in international comparison, which supportsthe operation of International Karst Research Centre and the application for XiangxiUNESCO Global Geopark. In 2018, hefacilitated the establishment of ISO-TC319 and was appointed as the chairman of the committee by the International Standard Organization.

More importantly, he compiled the international science plan of “Global Karst Dynamic System Resources and Environmental Effects”, which was launched by China Geological Survey in 2016.It received support from 15 countries and a congratulatory letter with compliment from the Director-General of UNESCO. In the past two years, Dr JIANG has set up a global karst information platform, on which a global karst distribution map and pictures of karst development in Southeast Asia werepublished. For international cooperation, hehelped Chris Grovesapply for and win China’s International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2016.

Time tells: from zero to hero, from karst rocky desertification in southwest China to international cooperation, it is his aspiration and sense of responsibility that encourages Dr JIANG to persist in scientific study. Also, it is his academic rigour and responsibility for China and the world that facilitate progress in forest industry and the whole society.

                                                                    Translated from National Innovation Alliance for forestry and grassland