- enghunan.gov.cn, China.org.cn, April 21, 2015
Hunan has a huge river system with the Dongting Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in China in the north. The Xiangjiang River, Zijiang River, Yuanshui River, and Lishui River flow into Dongting Lake from the southwest to northeast, connecting with the Yangtze River. The total quantity of natural water resources in Hunan is the highest of nine provinces in South China.
Hunan's cultivated land, pastureland, and forests total 3.78 million hectares, 6.37 million hectares, and 10.3699 million hectares respectively, forming approximately 3 percent, 1.6 percent and 6.6 percent of the country's total cultivated area, pastureland and forest. The province has rich and varied land resources, favoring the development of its agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries.
Hunan is rich in both nonferrous and non-metallic minerals. A total of 143 minerals have been identified in the province. The existing reserves of 62 types make the country's top ten mineral reserves, especially for nonferrous metals. Hunan's abundant mineral reserves highlight its importance not only to the country but to the wider world.
There are around 5,000 types of seed plants in Hunan, putting it in seventh place across the country, over 2,000 kinds of woody plants, more than 1,000 types of wild economic plants, over 800 sorts of medicinal plants and 55 categories of rare wild plants under state protection, accounting for 17.7 percent of the country's total categories of rare wild plants. There are a wide variety of grain crops, with over 9,000 types of rice. Oil crops include camellia seed, tung tree seed, rapeseed, sesame, sunflower seed, cotton seed and castor-oil plant. The economic crops mainly include cotton, ramie, jute (red jute) and tobacco. There are more than 100 types of medicinal plants like coptis root and gastrodia elata and 88 sorts of agricultural and sideline products including citrus, tea, Hunan white lotus, day lily, water-soaked bamboo slice, lilium brownii var. viridulum, pearl barley and hot pepper.
Hunan has woody plants of 103 families, 478 genera and 2, 470 species. Hunan's forest area has reached 7.5,014 million hectares, with forest coverage of 51.4 percent, higher than the average national and world level. Twenty-three forest natural reserves have been established, and the first national forest park Zhangjiajie Forest Park is among them.
The provincial grassland area covers 6.373 million hectares, of which there is up to 5.666 million hectares of available grassland. The stock-carrying capacity is 7.04 million cattle units. There are grassland plants of 137 families and 868 species, of which 775 species serve as food for livestock.
Hunan has a wide variety of animals. There are 66 kinds of wild mammals, over 500 sorts of birds, 71 kinds of reptiles, 40 types of amphibians, more than 1,000 sorts of insects and over 200 kinds of aquatic animals. There are 18 categories of animals under first-class state protection like the south China tiger, clouded leopard, golden cat, white crane and white-flag dolphin, 28 sorts of animals are included in the second-class such as macaque, stump-tailed macaque, pangolin, hellbender and cowfish, and 49 types of animals belong to the third class including the egret, wild duck and bamboo partridge.
As a well-known freshwater fish producing area in China, Hunan has over 160 types of natural fish, including carp, blackcarp, grass carp, bighead carp, silver carp, bream fish, crucian carp, gurnet, which mainly belong to the cyprinidae family. Famous species are Chinese sturgeon, Chinese paddlefish, silverfish, hilsa herring and eel. Ningxiang pig, Binhu buffalo, Xiangxi cattle, Xiangdong black goat, Wugang bronze goose, Linwu duck and Liuyang three buff chickens are the most well-known livestock and poultry.