Assessment of the World Heritage Committee
The Wuyi Mountains is the most renowned biological reserve in southeastern China, and also the refuge for many ancient plants including ones that only grow in China. The valley along the Jiuqu Stream is beautiful and there are many temples on both sides of the stream, although some have been ruined. Mount Wuyi once provided an excellent geographical environment for the idealistic philosophy of the Tang and Song Dynasties to develop and spread. Since the 11th century, the idealist philosophy heavily affected the culture of China’s eastern regions. In the 1st century, the governors of the Han Dynasty established a large administrative capital beside Chengcun village. The capital was surrounded by thick and solid walls and has extremely high archeological value.
Chinese name: Wu Yi Shan
English name: Mount Wuyi
Based on the standards N(III)(IV) and C(III)(VI) for selecting natural and cultural heritage, Mount Wuyi was listed on the World Heritage List in 1999
Mount Wuyi is located in Wuyishan City, and is about 15 kilometers to the south of the urban area. It is at the southeastern foot of the northern part of the Wuyi Mountains, and covers about 70 square kilometers. Mount Wuyi is composed of four parts, the Wuyi Mountain Scenic and Historic Interest Area, Wuyi Mountain Nature Reserve, Wuyi Mountain Ancient Han Dynasty City Relics, and the Protection Zone of the Jiuqu Stream Upper Reaches.
Mount Wuyi’s Danxia landform developed mainly between the Jurassic Period and the Tertiary Period in the red horizontal or slightly declining strata. After being weathered and eroded for countless years, the red sandstones formed upstanding peaks and steep rock formations, creating the beautiful natural landscapes of Mount Wuyi. Different from other natural landscapes, the landscapes of Mount Wuyi are fantastic, elegant, deep, quiet, delicate and exquisite. The key sceneries include the “crystal-clear and jade-green” Jiuqu Stream, the 36 green upstanding peaks and the 99 rocks. The source of the Jiuqu Stream is in the Sanbao Mountain, where the clear water flows surrounding many mountain peaks, forming the beautiful twisted Jiuqu (Nine-Twist) Stream. The most renowned mountain peaks of Mount Wuyi and the mysterious Hanging Coffins on the cliffs are all located on the two sides of the Jiuqu Stream. Connected by the stream, the colorful and fascinating sceneries along the stream have formed an amazing painting which is the essence of Mount Wuyi’s landscapes and one of the best landscapes in the world.
Mount Wuyi has the most typical, largest and best-preserved subtropical virgin forest ecosystem and extremely abundant biological resources. It has also been listed on the “Human and Nature” Nature Reserves of the United Nations. According to the latest survey and statistics, 269 families, 1,040 genera and 3,278 species of higher plants have been discovered in this nature reserve, including 267 genera and 361 species of bryophyta, 40 families, 85 genera and 280 species of ferns, and 171 families, 840 genera and 2,237 species of spermatophyte. 840 species of lower plants have also been discovered. Experts believe that the nature reserve still has many species that have not yet been discovered and named. Due to its outstanding geographic and climatic conditions, Mount Wuyi is an ideal place for wild animals to live and propagate, and is known in the world as “the Window of the World’s Species.” Currently, 5,110 animal species have been discovered in Mount Wuyi, of which, 48 have been listed in the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.”
In addition, Mount Wuyi also has numerous rare and unique animal species, including the Vibrissaphora liui Pope, Amolops wuyiensis, the Guadun Houyuan Snake, White-necklaced Partridge, and the Wuyi Thick-Lipped Fish. The mountain has many unusual local animals as well such as the Grass Owl, Chinese Pygmy Dormouse, La’s Mole and the White Bat. The Golden Marking Swallowtail Butterfly which was discovered only a few years ago is a rare species of butterfly in the world. In the Wuyi Mountain Nature Reserve, 256 bird species have been discovered including 35 new species and new subspecies, making Mount Wuyi one of the places with most plentiful bird resources in the world. Of the birds living there, the Yellow-Bellied Tragopan and the Scaly-Sided Merganser are under China’s first-grade national protection, and the Silver Pheasant and Cape Barn Owl are under China’s second-grade national protection.
The mountain also has many birds of prey including the eagle, hawk, falcon and dove, as well as many unique local species such as the Short-Tailed crowtit. Mount Wuyi is also the place with the most insect species in the world. According to experts, Mount Wuyi has over 20,000 insect species, which is equal to the total insect species that have been discovered in China. Analysis shows that most insects on the mountain are beneficial insects, and harmful insects account for no more than two percent, and all of them can be controlled by their natural predators.
Mount Wuyi is also a renowned historic and cultural mountain. Ancient people once said, “Confucius of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Zhu Xi of the Southern Song Dynasty, Mount Taishan in the north, and Mount Wuyi in the South.” Mount Wuyi’s cultural landscapes and its historical deposits accumulated in the past 4,000 years are both rich and distinctive. The mountain was a multi-cultural area where the ancient Min nationality culture, Min Yue nationality culture, idealist philosophy culture, tea culture, and religious culture mixed together. Zhu Xi, the idealist philosopher of the Southern Song Dynasty once lived there for over 40 years. He established schools, gave lectures, wrote books and established theories there and made it the cultural center of China’s southeastern regions. Zhu’s idealist philosophy once played a dominant role for many centuries in many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, and affected a large part of the world in the philosophical and political realms.
Mount Wuyi currently still has many temples that are related to Zhu’s idealist philosophy, and visitors can also see the relics of the academies established in the 11th century. The current practical evidence includes the Cold Spring Study Room established by Zhu, the “General Liu’s Memorial Tablet” composed and written by Zhu, the inscriptions written by Zhu, and other idealist philosophers from different dynasties, and Zhu’s tomb. In Taoism, the mountain was also called the “16th Heaven.” In the past dynasties, scholars and writers wrote over 2,000 complimentary articles and engraved over 400 stone statues and cliff inscriptions. People have worked and lived on Mount Wuyi for over 4,000 years and the unique regional “ancient Min nationality culture” gradually formed over its long history.
The “Hanging Boat-Shaped Coffins,” the “Hongqiao Board” and the relics of the 48-hactare ancient Han Dynasty City, in which the king of the ancient Min Yue nationality lived, are the unique practical evidence of the ancient civilizations which disappeared 3,000 years ago. The Han Dynasty City Relics which was built in the 1st century BC was the royal palace of the Min Yue Kingdom in the Western Han Dynasty. It covers 220,000 square meters and is one of the best-preserved city relics in southern China. The Hanging Boat-Shaped Coffins are already more than 3,750 years old, the oldest hanging coffins ever discovered in China. Among the funerary objects of the coffins, China’s oldest cotton dry-goods were found. In addition, an ancient porcelain kiln from the Song Dynasty and a royal tea park from the Yuan Dynasty were also found on the mountain.
According to the first point of the first article regarding cultural heritage stated in the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritages,” buildings, tablet carvings and paintings, archeological parts and structures, inscriptions, caves or a mixture of the previously mention items which have outstanding universal value in terms of history, art and science are said to have world cultural heritage, and according to the third point of the second article regarding natural heritage in the same convention, geologic and natural geographic structures or the clearly defined ecological zones of endangered animals and plants are said to have world natural heritage. Therefore, Mount Wuyi is completely in accordance with the natural and cultural heritage definitions stated in the convention for its typical Danxia landforms, unique and abundant biological resources, and rich historical and cultural deposits.
Mount Wuyi not only has typical Danxia landforms and natural sceneries, but also is the place with the most typical, largest, and best-preserved subtropical virgin forest ecosystem, as well as the place with most insect species in the world. Mount Wuyi can also reflect the ancient Han culture and the atmosphere of Zhu’s idealist philosophy for its various well-preserved and distinctive relics. Its historical and cultural value is quite obvious, and it is in accordance with the “realness” requirements. Furthermore, Mount Wuyi as an individual place with high natural and cultural value has not only maintained the integrity of its landscapes, but has also perfectly integrated them together so that all the natural, ecological and cultural landscapes could be fully reflected. Therefore, an integrated concept of “Mount Wuyi Culture” can be formed and Mount Wuyi is in accordance with the “integrity” requirements. In a word, Mount Wuyi has quite high natural and cultural heritage value and deserves the “world heritage” title completely.