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Project leader talks about how Danxia landforms become World Heritage

08-06-2010 14:35 BJT

As China’s Danxia landforms were added to the World Heritage List, China now has 40 world heritage sites on the list. The six Danxia landforms that were declared World Heritage sites at the same time have attracted wide attention. Peng Hua, leader of China’s world heritage declaration expert group at Brasilia and a professor from Sun Yat-Sen University, revealed the story behind the application.

At 5:50 a.m. on August 2, a short message came from Peng Hua who was in Brazil which said, “At 6 p.m. on August 1 (Brazil Time), China’s Danxia landforms were authorized by the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Brasília to be added to the World Heritage List! China’s six Danxia landforms including Danxia Mountain in Guangdong province, Langshan Mountain in Hunan province, Taining in Fujian Province, Chishui in Guizhou province, Longhu Mountain in Jiangxi province and Jianglang Mountain in Zhejiang province were all selected!”

Although reporters could not see his expression, they could see from the exclamation marks how excited and thrilled the 54-year-old expert was. “The 17-year long struggle finally achieved a result today.”

Danxia landforms in Dajin Lake Scenic Spot in Taining County, Fujian province (Photo taken on August 18, 2009)

Danxia landforms in Dajin Lake Scenic Spot in Taining County, Fujian province

The endeavors of four generations of scholars

The Danxia landform is a special landscape that appears when the crustal evolution reached a certain level, and has a special ecosystem, various species and high aesthetic value. It is also of important significance to earth sciences, as well as a good foundation and bright prospect to develop scientific expeditions and research and educational tours. Danxia Mountain in the northern part of Guangdong Province is an outstanding representative.

As the "cradle" and the base camp of the Danxia landforms research, Sun Yat-Sen University’s research on the Danxia landforms has led domestic counterparts and has had four generations of scholars taking part in the research. In 1928, Feng Jinglan, a professor from Sun Yat-Sen University, named the red rock mountains that form Danxia Mountain as the “Danxia Horizon.” Afterwards, Professor Chen Guoda from the same university put forward the concept of Danxia landforms in 1938, and this concept has been used by Chinese geographers ever since. Peng Hua is a fourth-generation scholar there following Wu Shangshi, Zeng Zhaoxuan and Huang Jin.

Peng Hua visited Danxia Mountain and began research as early as the 1980s. “As a professional geographer, I was shocked by the Danxia Mountain at the first sight and felt that it deserves higher status. Just being praised as one of the four well-known mountains in Guangdong province is definitely not enough,” Peng said. Therefore, helping Danxia Mountain to achieve a better brand became his dream. “With a better brand, it is capable for Danxia Mountain to further develop its tourism and a good brand will help protect the mountain from irrational and destructive development, thereby allowing it to be permanently preserved and valued by all human beings.”

Since then, Peng concentrated on the research of the Danxia landforms on the one hand, while on the other hand, has used his identity of core experts on Danxia landforms to promote the upgrade of Danxia Mountain from a local famous mountain to a famous mountain in China, and even the world. He promoted the successful application of Danxia Mountain to be a national key scenic area, national geological park, world geological park, and now a world heritage site. He is praised as the “chief designer” of the development of Danxia Mountain.

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