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Documentary > Top Choice

Top Choice 03/05/2015 World Heritage China Part 25- Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area

CCTV.com

03-06-2015 00:44 BJT


Natural heritage value:

Valuable geology and landform

The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is in the third uplifted zone of the Neocathaysian structural system. Throughout the long geologic history, it has roughly experienced the Wuling-Xuefeng, Indosinian, Yanshan, Himalayan, and neotectonic movements. Among them, the Wuling-Xuefeng movement laid the basic structure of this area, the Indosinian movement shaped the basic geomorphic framework and the Himalayan and neotectonics movements were the most basic internal factors for the formation of the rare karst formation in the Wulingyuan area.

Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area

The stratums that form the sandstone peak forest landforms are mainly composed of the Yuntaiguan formation and Huangjiadun formation originating from the middle and late Devonian period of the Paleozoic era and have the characteristics of littoral clastic rocks. The rocks are pure, thick and flat, and have vertical joints, exposed as the syncline profile, reflecting the basic geological environment and conditions for the formation of sandstone peak forest landforms. The water erosion, avalanches, living beings' biochemical actions and physical weathering are the essential external conditions. Therefore, this kind of landforms was formed under the long-term interactions of the gravity inside and outside earth in a specific geological environment.

Strange and beautiful landscapes

The quartz sandstone peak forest landforms: Wulingyuan has a total of 3,103 stone peaks, ranging from altitudes between 500 to 1,100 meters, and the heights of the peaks range from tens of meters to 400 meters. The peak forest is beautifully shaped, looking like people, celestial beings, animals, or many other things. The landform features of the Wulingyuan quartz sandstone peak forest is purity and thickness, for 75 to 95 percent of the peak, there is quartz and rock stratum that is over 520 meters thick. Furthermore, the peak has lit-par-lit structure, namely the thin or super-thin mica sandstones or shales are placed in the thick layers of quartz sandstones, which is conducive to beautifying natural formations. The rocks are exposed as syncline structures and have flat contours (mostly 5 to 8 degrees, but the maximum is up to 20 degrees). This helped the stability of the rocks and provided a prerequisite for the formation of the peak forest. The characteristics including vertical joints as well as 15 to 20 meters of space between every two peaks had provided topographic conditions for shaping different styles of peak forests and deep canyons.

Based on the above factors plus various external forces during the regional neotectonics movement, including intermittent uplifts, tilting, water erosion and cutting, gravity, physical weathering, biochemical and root wedging, the peak forest structures of the mountains were formed according to complex natural evolution, and shows high, flat, steep and other features.

Erosion landforms: the erosion landforms in the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is mainly exposed in where the carbonate was distributed during the Permian and Triassic era, with an area of nearly 31 square kilometers, and can be divided into five sub-categories, known as the typical representative of the "west Hunan-type" karst landscape. The main shapes include the karst vein, trace, doline, karren, groove, stone forest, low-lying land, membrane, funnel, ponor, silo, scuttle, underground river, and karstic spring. The karst caves are mainly located to north of Suoxiyu River Valley and southeast of Tianzi Mountain and there are dozens in total. The most typical is the Huanglong Cave, which is called the "treasure house of speleology," and has great value in terms of tours and adventures for tourist and speleologists.

The tectonic denudation landform is distributed in the clastic area of the Silurian era and belonged to the third subclass. The cuesta landforms are mainly distributed from Majingjie to Baihutang and from Chaotianguan to Dajian outside the quartz sandstone peak forest landscape. The landform of the V-shaped Carp Bone Valley is distributed in some places such as Huping, Shijiayu, Huangjiaping, and other areas. The landform of the low mountain is distributed outside the mountain of middle height, with gentle slopes, and the valleys are V-shaped.

Landform from water erosion: These landforms can be divided into proluvial fans in front of the mountain, terraces and high alluvial flats. The proluvial fans in front of the mountain were developed in the place from Chaqiyu Valley to the front of the Shijiayu Valley. The first and second-level terraces were developed in the two sides of the Suoxiyu River Valley, with the second-level ones being the basement terraces three to 10 meters above the river. The high alluvial flats were developed in places from Jundiping to Yujiazui, with an area of four to five square kilometers.

Intact ecosystem: The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, located in border regions between the western plateau sub region and the eastern plain and hill sub region, connects Hubei Province to the northeast and Shennongjia area to the west, and Fanjingshan Mountain of east Guizhou to the southwest. The creatures in these areas move and flow among various areas where are rich in species. In particular, the geography of Wulingyuan is complex, the slopes are abrupt and the ditches are deep. Additionally, the mild climate and the sufficient rainfall as well as the lush forests all provide a good environment for various species to live and reproduce. At the same time, because of the inconvenient access to traffic and few inhabitants in Wulingyuan, the abundant species are less influenced by humans and are well-preserved. Wulingyuan has hence become an important area home to a variety of living fossil plants as well as a wide range of rare wild animals and plants. According to research, Wulingyuan has never suffered from a severe abnormal climate, soil erosion, rock mass collapse or major forest diseases and insect pests over the past 100 years, proving that it has maintained a well-structured and complete ecosystem and has a great scientific value.

Wulingyuan has rich plant resources. Among the numerous plants, The Wuling Pine is the most widely distributed and abundant and oddest-shaped, which enjoys the reputation that numberless pines cover 3,000 peaks of Wulingyuan.

Ancient trees are the “living cultural relics” of the natural heritage. The ancient and rare trees in Wulingyuan have characteristics of being old, big, rare, strange, and many in number. There are primeval forests in good conditions in Shentangwan and Heicongnao. An ancient gingko in Zhangjiajie, which is 44 meters high and has a diameter at breast height of 1.59 meters, is viewed as the living fossil plant among natural heritages. The Davidia involucrata, which grows in Yaozizhai Mountain, is a rare tree under first-grade state protection. The germplasm resources of the plants have great scientific value, and their living environment, appearance and structure of forest, as well as the protection and conservation of these plants are major subjects of researches.

Precious rare wild animals: Wulingyuan, which belongs to the central China region of oriental realm in terms of geographic distribution of animals, is located at border regions between the western plateau sub region and the eastern plain and hill sub region. This place has a complex geography, mild climate, and sufficient rainfall. In addition, after a long period of erosion and efflorescence, the quartz sandstones have formed large picturesque peaks and rocks, with abrupt slopes and deep ditches. In addition, the forests in Wulingyuan are dense, and all these conditions have provided a good environment for animals to live and reproduce. A preliminary investigation has confirmed that the area has 116 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals belonging to 50 families, including three species under first-grade state protection and 10 species under the second-grade state protection listed in the List of Wildlife under Special State Protection. In the Wulingyuan animal world, macaques account for a great majority, and it is said that their number reaches more than 300. The giant salamanders, which local people called “Wawayu,” are often found in streams, springs or in deep pools. Studying the role of animal ecology in the ecosystem of Wulingyuan and their relationship has a great scientific value for protecting the animals and maintaining the ecological balance.

Rare geological landscape relics

The sand grain in Devonian stratum in the whispering wall of Wulingyuan and the ripple marks of the cliff paintings in Tiaoyutan are rare geological relics. They could not only be opened to the public, but also evidence for studying the ancient environment and the changes between the sea and the land. The coral fossils, found in Permian strata in Tianzi Mountain, look like markings on the back of a turtle, so it is called a “tortoise figure stone”. Furthermore, they are good materials for carving various crafts.

Colorful climate landscape

The four seasons and climate in the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area are changeable. The mist is the most common meteorological spectacle there, and can take five shapes, such as cloud and mist, cloud seas, cloud waves, cloud waterfalls, and colorful clouds. After a rainfall, the mountain is first covered by dense fog and later it will change to white clouds. The peaks will flicker in the boundless sea of the clouds, which looks like imaginary sacred Penglai Mountain and the magnificent houses. If you were amid such an environment, you are going to feel like an immortal supernatural human. Sometimes the sea of clouds shrouds the peaks, and then directly flows down like waterfall, showing spectacular scenery.

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