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Special Edition 02/18/2015 World Heritage China Part 16- Three Parallel Rivers


02-18-2015 23:43 BJT

Moreover, the largest and most complete Danxia landforms in China are distributed on Laojun Mountain of Lijiang City. There are dozens of well-known mountain lakes in the region including Tingming Lake on the Gaoligong Mountain in Lushui County, the Gandiyibi Lake, Enreyibi Lake and Nianboyibi Lake nearby the Peak of Biluo Snow Mountain in Fugong County and the Bita Lake and Shudu Lake in Zhongdian County. There also are many mountain lakes such as the lakes of the Thousand Lake Mountain, the Laojun Mountain, the Red Mountain and the Laowo Mountain. According to surveys, there are almost 100 distinctive scenic spots with an area larger than 50 square kilometers and the other scenic spots are even more numerous. Therefore, the region can be called the miniature of natural landscapes in the Northern Hemisphere, except for desert landscapes.

The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is known as “the world’s biological gene bank.” As it was not covered by the continental glacier from the quaternary ice age, and the ranges in this area go from south to north, it consequently has become the main channel and refuge of biological species in Eurasia, and also the area where biological groups in Eurasia are mostly distributed. The area experiences many kinds of climate types, such as the Northern Hemisphere’s south subtropical zone, middle subtropical zone, north subtropical zone, warm temperate zone, temperate zone, cold temperate zone, and frigid zone. The area has more than 20 ecosystems, and accounts for 80 percent of the ecosystem-types in the Northern Hemisphere. The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is the epitome of the biological environment of Eurasia, and the area with the most abundant ecosystem-types within the unit area in the world.

Furthermore, it is the area where biological species and groups are most clearly differentiated. The fauna and floristic compositions in the area are complex and diverse, including 10 animal distribution types and 21 subtypes, 10 vegetation types and 23 vegetation subtypes, and more than 90 formations. It is unique that there are so many animal distribution types and vegetation types in such a small area. In the area, there are more than 6,000 species of higher plants, belonging to more than 1,200 genera and more than 210 families, and there are 44 genera and 2,700 families endemic to China including 600 families endemic to the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas. Moreover, there are 33 species of national rare and endangered plants and 37 species of provincial rare and endangered plants, and the area is also the most famous herbarium type locality. The area occupies less than 0.4 percent of China’s land but has more than 20 percent of higher plants and 25 percent of animal species in the country. The rare and endangered animals living in this area are the Yunnan Golden Monkey, Tibetan Antelope, Snow Panther, Bengal Tiger, and the Black-necked Crane, and plants include the Flousiana, Cyathea and Taxus chinensis.

Heritage value

According to the first point of the second item in the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, “landforms and geological structures that have prominent universal value as well as the natural habitats of endangered plant and animal species are worthy of good protection. The Three Parallel Rivers does not only have peculiar natural sceneries, but also has various kinds of landforms. Furthermore, it has a high level of natural and scientific value in its diversity of endangered wildlife, thus it fits the definition of natural heritage outlined in the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage perfectly. The phenomenon that the rivers flow parallel to each other but do not ever meet is unique and rare in the world.

Furthermore, the rivers are located at the convergence of East Asia, South Asia and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, so there are diverse landscapes as well as animal and plant species, which is rare in China’s and even the world’s nature reserves. Therefore, the Three Parallel Rivers is in line with the standards of natural heritage in terms of authenticity. In addition, the Three Parallel Rivers, as an independent nature reserve, has all kinds of geographic and ecologic elements, and has a relatively complete and high grade composition in terms of both quality and quantity. For thousands of years, people had seldom entered the Three Parallel Rivers, so it is extremely well-preserved. The Meili Snow Mountain for example, has been regarded as a holy mountain by the Tibetan people for thousands of years, and they have prohibited climbers from entering the mountain grounds. Therefore, the Three Parallel Rivers is in line with the standards of natural heritage in terms of completeness. Because of its special geographical location, the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is very unique and peculiar compared to other nature reserves. Therefore, it has a high value in terms of ecology, nature, and scientific research, and should be strictly protected as precious heritage.

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