Tongle Village in Weixi County of Yunnan Province, a typical Lisu village in Lancang River basin, is located at the national protection zone of traditional culture of Lisu people and named as the ecological cultural village by UNESCO. Based on the distinctive climatic characteristics at different altitudes, Lisu people have developed an effective vertical agriculture system. They cultivate rice and wheat in the river basin at an altitude of 1 740 m; plant corns, nuts, fruits and vegetables around the village at an altitude of 1 840 m and buckwheat, potato, herbs in the upper “swidden land” at an altitude of 2 000 m. They also herd animals in the alpine meadow at an altitude of 2 500 m. Based on a fieldwork, this paper studied the vertical agriculture system by applying the theories of Ecological Anthropology and employing several field work methods such as participant observation and in-depth interviews. According to the research findings, Lisu people have not only properly utilized local natural resources, but also developed a related cultural system to facilitate their agriculture production. But the vertical system also faces great challenges with the economic and social development of local areas. To respond positively, sustainable development is a way for Lisu people to enhance their living standards and maintain their traditional culture.


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