Scientific Research of Fauna and Flora, Forest and Mineral Resources
Although the natural conditions are severe for mankind, Tibet is a paradise to some wild animals. It teems with many rare animals and plants such as black-collared cranes, wild yaks, Tibetan gazelles, white-lipped deer, saussurea involucrata and Chinese caterpillar fungus. In order to better protect these animals and ecological environment, scientific workers conducted research on rare mammals inhabiting the Changtang Plateau, which provided important scientific evidence for the establishment of the Changtang Nature Reserve with a unique ecosystem.
Satellite and aerial remote sensing, and ground observation sampling, along with other advanced scientific and technological techniques, have helped set up a continuous monitoring system of forestry resources. This has helped provide scientific evidence for rational use of rare highland forests and for guidance of forest production.
In 1987, the region's Biology Institute succeeded in the experimental planting of saffron, which has proliferated. At the same time, the institute also examined and analysed the chemical components of the red-spotted stonecrop, thus aiding its exploration and application. The Nuodikang capsule has obtained a production license from the Ministry of Public Health, becoming the first medicine from the region to gain state approval. In addition, studies on plants such as the saussurea involucrata, the Chinese yew and the rhizome of Chinese monkshood have resulted in publication of the Tibetan Plants List, Tibetan Economic Plants and other monographs.
Some people say Tibet is a treasure trove, and with good reason. Tibet is the highest and youngest plateau in the world. Achievements of scientific research over the past four decades show that Tibet is not only unique in geological features and rich in mineral resources, but also has superior minerals. For example, proven chromium iron ore deposits rank first in the country; copper reserves, though second, possess huge deposits of porphyry copper and molybdenum; artistic crystals and boule also rank the first; volcanic ash, the second; natural sulphur and boron, the fourth; while arsenic, graphite, pottery clay and surface-decorated marble, the fifth. Four decades of geological endeavor have resulted in completion of a 1:1 million regional and ore deposits geological reconnaissance and aeromagnetic survey in some areas, with 1:200,000 regional geological surveys and prospecting through geochemical exploration, being carried out in major mineralogenetic areas and national economic development zones. At the same time, efforts have been made in the surveying and prospecting of geothermal resources and other minerals including copper, chromium, iron, lead, zinc, antimony, tin, coal, petroleum, salt lake minerals, gold, jade, etc. Physical exploration techniques played an important role in the prospecting and exploitation of the Yangbajain Geothermal Field. The mining sector is bound to become one of the pillar industries in the region.