Created by Yunnan province for Yunnan province, our mission is to conserve Yunnan's most valuable and imperiled resource: its biological diversity.

We do this by helping government agencies in Yunnan -- and also local businesses, planners, researchers, organizations, and others -- learn which elements of this biodiversity are most endangered, learn exactly where these are located on the landscape, and learn how to avoid destroying or damaging these resources.

The methodology we use comes from a network of natural heritage data centers. We are the first such center to use this methodology in Asia.

The value of biodiversity

Harvard professor, Edward O. Wilson has called biodiversity mankind's greatest resource, more valuable even than material wealth such as gold and oil -- but also mankind's least appreciated resource, one being too rapidly diminished throughout the world. Any rational assessment of the value of biodiversity begins by emphasizing its potential for protecting our food resources from disease and increasing yields, two things which are more and more important every day as the world's population grows. The Director of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization has call biodiversity the key to ending world hunger.

Another key example is health -- and what could be more valuable than health? New medicines in particular. Cancer is but one example. There are many different types of cancer, and as scientists learn an increasing amount about the particular characteristics of each type, they will increasingly want to reach into biodversity's materia medica (medicinal cabinet) to find new drugs that do new things to effect a cure.

An assessment of biodiversity's value must also include benefits to manufacturing and to industry, both not generally thought of in this context, but which are in fact legion. Nor should we forget the sheer esthetic beauty of nature's diversity, and the value of this to the arts, or philosophy -- indeed, "monoculture," the opposite of biodiversity, is a synonym for "boredom."

Yunnan's precious resource

Yunnan province, therefore, is fortunate in being one of the world's great reservoirs of biodiversity. Yet the province, once remote and slow to change, is now being rapidly developed, with the result that there is greater and greater need for information about how to prioritize its tens of thousands of biological elements and how to precisely locate -- and plan to protect -- them.

YN-NHCDC is new, but it draws upon the experience of a network which precedes it, a knowledge base which has persisted and been increasing for almost four decades now.

The methodology used by the network is not only proven to work, and proven to work well, but also proven to be of permanent value. The methods moreover are of universal application,