By Yu Bai, a PhD student at Minzu University of China and member of the student committee. Connect with her through WeChatID: Tiger_Rose_1005
For centuries, people there have been relying on the terraced fields. Shexian. A typical example of Dryland Stone Terraces System, is the Wangjinzhuang village, which is located in the midst of Taihang Mountain in China. These terraces were classified as one of the Chinese National Important Agricultural Heritage System by the Department of Agriculture in 2014. Furthermore, they make up splendid landscapes that hold an impressive biodiversity and a unique climate, which also includes less pollution.
The terraced fields of dryland are in the vast deep mountain area and reach 268 thousand mu (178.6 x105 m2). Local people can get through harsh times even when the conditions were unfavourable, thanks to various kinds of plants, especially for edible and medicinal ones in the Shexian Dryland Stone Terraces System. In addition, animals like pheasants, wild boars, eagles and hares also live there.
In Shexian, donkeys play an irreplaceable and significant role in people’s daily life. Additionally to the donkeys’ importance as a work force in agricultural production, they also play a social role as companions, friends and family. There are even some peculiar folklore regarding donkeys of Shexian, for example, masters will hold a celebratory dinner for donkeys’ full moon birth at home.
As “The Natural Museum of Stone”, local people in Shexian make full use of stones. Which are used to build terraced fields, houses, bridges, handrail, blocks, press rollers, etc., exhibiting the tough environment and people’s wisdoms under such circumstances.
The Shexian Dryland Stone Terraces System is well-known for its stone almost all over the place, thus local people created a particular agroforestry ecosystem to be adapted to the environment with more stone and less soil. They plant economically important trees like Zanthoxylunm bungeanum Maxim., Forsythia suspensa (Thunb.) Vahl, Juglans regia L., Diospyrus kaki L.f. and Diospyros lotus L. on the edge of the terraced system. And within these terraces, there are various kinds of agricultural species, such as Zea mays L., Setaria italica (L.) Beauv., Arachis hypogaea L, etc.
*All photos above were taken by and are the property of Ethnobotanical Innovation Group of Minzu University of China.
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Also check the Chinese version here: https://sebstudentblog.com/2021/10/04/blogpost_bai_yu_cn/
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