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The Mekong river banks

on extreme habitats interesting plants evolve

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Ecosystems and their plants and animals along the banks of the upper Mekong

pools and puddles

Plants and their habitats

Bauhinia variegata candida

Mekong fairy bush

Mekong river palm (threatened by extinction)

Fragrant Mekong shrub




Mekong River

The mighty Mekong, meandering through Yunnan, is taking on the colour of the soil in its watersheds. Unsustainable land-use systems in the mountains, are the reason. Crops like sugar cane, corn, and pine apple are not able to hold the top soil, and every rain washes millions of tons of soil into the river.
In addition, most forest in the tropical areas of Xishuangbanna has been cleared for rubber plantations, which provide little habitat for biodiversity protection of this unique place. However, rubber is no longer a viable crop for the area as economic return is steadily declining (read environmental economic report).
What is worse, however, is that more "development" is ahead.

Typical boat on the upper Mekong, Lancang. In the background rubber plantations and shifting cultivation. The banks are covered with bamboo and a characteristic xerophytic vegetation.

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The banks of the upper Mekong river are a peculiar habitat of extreme environmental conditions. During rainy season the water level can be more than 20 meters higher at some places. Some plant species have adapted to this special environment and can even take inundation by the torrential waters.

Shrubs at the upper water level of the Mekong river

Roots of shrubs at the Mekong banks reaching the dry season water level of the river.

Farming systems in the drift sands of the Mekong river. The farmers use corn, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.