Regional Sustainability ›› 2020, Vol. 1 ›› Issue (1): 1-10.doi: 10.1016/j.regsus.2020.08.001

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Characteristics and utilization of plant diversity and resources in Central Asia

Yuanming Zhang*(), Daoyuan Zhang, Wenjun Li, Yaoming Li, Chi Zhang, Kaiyun Guan, Borong Pan   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, 830011, China
  • Received:2020-06-15 Revised:2020-07-30 Accepted:2020-08-04 Online:2020-01-20 Published:2020-10-14
  • Contact: Yuanming Zhang


The geographical region of Central Asia comprises Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Central Asia’s temperate forests, steppes, and sandy deserts, including riparian tugai forests, have been identified by the World Wide Fund for Nature as Global 200 ecoregions, and the Mountains of Central Asia are considered biodiversity hotspots. Here, we describe and analyze the diverse characteristics and utilization of plant diversity and resources of the region. We confirm that there are 9520 species of higher plants, 20% of which are endemic species, belonging to 138 families and 1176 genera. The vegetation geography of Central Asia can be divided into 5 provinces and 33 districts, and more than 65% species have a Central Asian geographical distribution pattern. Plant resource utilization can be grouped into 5 categories and 31 subcategories, including food, medicine, industry, environmental protection, construction, and plant germplasm. In this review, we also discuss the principal threats to plant biodiversity in Central Asia posed by global climate change and offer recommendations for conservation strategies.

Key words: Flora, Plant resources, Biodiversity, Vegetation types, Central Asia