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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Fuzhou Jasmine and tea system

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Detailed Information

Global information

According to historical records, Fuzhou started its plantation of Jasmine at as early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC- 9 AD). Till the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Fuzhou had become one of the major areas for tea cultivation, which indicated a long history of the coexistence of Jasmine and Tea in Fuzhou. Nowadays, this region has developed a strong knowledge for the cultivation and production of jasmine tea.

These developments have been encouraged by the increase of knowledge and adapted technologies about jasmine and tea cultivation but also post-harvest processes: choosing an adapted place to cultivate and manage it. In addition, the quality of green tea depends on the timing and techniques of tea leaf picking. Also the plucking of Jasmine Flowers is a meticulous practice involving a precise knowledge of the plant and environment.

However, with the advance of urbanization and industrialization, the plantation areas of Jasmine tea experienced drastic drops in every year from the late 1990s to the early 2000s (dropped from the more than 6000 hectares in 1992 to less than 1,000 hectares in 2006), which results in the destruction of many biological habitats and consequently put the biodiversity under serious threat.

Food and livelihood security

The Jasmine-tea system is a main source of livelihood support to the local community as it involves diversified agriculture provisions. In this whole process production, mushrooms, jasmine tea, milk and meat are produced. In addition, farming in the tea plantations begins in February, producing tea leaves and other food.

Fuzhou is the most important city in producing jasmine tea in China, where jasmine and tea industries are a major source of income for local farmers. Tea processing enterprises also make a contribution to the local economy. Therefore, the jasmine and tea industries are crucial for local livelihoods.

Biodiversity and ecosystems functions

First of all, a variety of Jasmine that is endemic to Fuzhou in China is still cultivated and is currently under threat of extinction. Moreover, there are many varieties of jasmine. In China alone there are over 60 varieties.

The jasmine and green tea woods have rich biodiversity. There are 29 families and 51 varieties of animals in the jasmine ecosystems including endemic species under threat of extinction. Water pollution is the most important threat to their survival. Moreover, in Fuzhou, jasmines are mostly planted in riverside wetlands and shoals. This provides favorable habitats and abundant food for birds and other animals, attracting flocks of migratory birds.

As ecosystem functions, the jasmine and tea trees enhance water and soil conservation in many ways. As to jasmine trees, they are mostly planted on the riverside plains and shoals. In this way, they prevent the rain from directly scouring the riverside, mitigating soil and water erosion. Moreover, this system helps to prevent soil erosion. As to tea trees, they are planted in terrace fields.

Knowledge systems and adapted technologies

The first most important knowledge is about Jasmine cultivation by choosing the adapted place to cultivate and organizing it. Indeed, preventing insect pests methods by trimming and intercropping with other fruit trees are applied to maintain stable pest communities. Leaf thinning, trimming, weeding and fertilizing are all conducted at the proper time. Fertilizers used are mainly organic ones, such as the residue from growing mushroom, livestock manure, green manure, the bottom sediments of the rivers, and human excrement, etc.

Secondly, the quality of green tea depends on the timing and techniques of tea leaf picking. Also the plucking of Jasmine Flowers is a meticulous practice involving a precise knowledge of the plant and environment.

Cultures, value systems and social organizations

Jasmine has symbolic meanings in the Chinese culture. This flower is not only the symbol of forever love but also one of the holy flowers of Buddhism. For example, the crown of the Buddhist in the Ajanta wall paintings, a world heritage site, is decorated by golden jasmine flowers. The fragrance of jasmines is thought to be of heaven.

Around of Jasmine tea, several cultural traits can be put into relief. In the past, people in Fuzhou considered tea as an antidote to a lot of poisons. In the Fuzhou dialect, the word for buying medicine literally means buying tea; brewing medicine, brewing tea; taking medicine, drinking tea. Besides, tea culture is important by shaping the art of drinking tea which follows different steps.

Remarkable landscapes, land and water resources management features

Fuzhou city is mostly mountainous, while 10% is water and 10% is farmland. The mountains and hills are the foundation for the tea and jasmine landscapes. Tea and jasmines trees grow in different environments, which together with the complex topography, have shaped vertical landscapes from the mountaintop to the river, constituting in a vertical sequence, tea, trees, village buildings, jasmine and the river.

Fuzhou is a mountainous city, presenting a simple, economical and efficient method of water utilization and management. Local farmers, considering the growth habits of jasmines, have built terraces on the mountain sides. The terraces lower the speed of surface runoff, elongate the infiltration phase, and ease the scouring of the surface. As a result, the water and fertilizers are used efficiently.