A Natural World Heritage Site in Guizhou

A Natural World Heritage Site in Guizhou: A Place Where Man and Nature Coexist

by guizhou.huanqiu.com

Image Source: www.dfic.cn, www.huanqiu.com, Ran Jingcheng

In March, the foothills of Fanjing Mountain become a green world, while 2,572 meters above sea level, its peak is still capped in snow. Dove trees, an internationally recognized “living fossil,” just begin their florescence. This 775-square-kilometer region is home to more than 7,000 species whose habitats range from mid-subtropical to mid-temperate zones.

Dove tree of China is honored as a “living fossil” by botanists

Our planet is 4.5 billion years old, so old that man has to read its memories through geological and topographic information. According to a guide at the heritage museum, Fanjing Mountain, mainly a metamorphic rock structure, is an isolated ecosystem, like an island in an ocean of Karst hills, indicating the Wuling mountain range was under the sea 1.4 billion years ago. Fangjing is a one of-a-kind land formation in the world.

On July 2, 2018, Fanjing Mountain was inscribed on the UNESCO list of Natural World Heritage Sites at the 42nd World Heritage Convention (listed as Fanjingshan). It is the fourth Natural World Heritage site in Guizhou, following the South China Karst in Libo, China Danxia in Chishui, and Yuntai Mountain (listed as Yuntaishan) in Shibing, making Guizhou the province with the most Natural World Heritage Sites in China. “There are 24,547 identified species living in Guizhou so far, ranking fourth in China or the first in terms of unit density,” said Ran Jingcheng, president of Guizhou Academy of Forestry, adding that “great wisdom” is needed in eco-conservation, a job demanding careful planning for protected areas, mobilizing the local communities, and consideration of both natural protection and community development. The Fanjingshan Reserve has set a good example by developing an administrative system of its own.

Fanjing Mountain, a Natural World Heritage Site

Tuanlong Village in Yinjiang Autonomous County is the only intact state-level ethnic culture village in the Fanjingshan Pilot Zone. The government-led voluntary relocation of villagers in the core area in 2018 allowed some villagers to remain in the pilot zone and live in harmony with the ecosystem. Chai Enxiong, one of those villagers, has adapted by giving up his hunting life and planting tea. He also collects withered wood from the mountain and sells it as souvenirs. 

According to Ran Jingcheng, the highway ring around the mountain serves as an artificial biological barrier to the local ecosystem. Creating an “eco-corridor” has been very important for the protection of environment-sensitive wildlife, habitat restoration, human-behavior administration, water-source protection and food-supply restoration. Head of the Hekou Station of the Fanjingshan Administration, Yang Quanyong and his 130 rangers are the zone’s “eco-defenders.” Each of them spends eight hours every day patrolling the mountain area. The total distance they’ve walked in 30 years is equal to the circumference of the Earth. Guizhou’s efforts as one of the first National Ecological Civilization Pilot Zones has produced good results. In 2020, its 30 reforms in 13 aspects were listed as recommended ecosystem reform approaches and practices for China’s National Ecological Civilization Pilot Zones.

A survey in the rain

Today, Fanjing Mountain aims to be a National Park. According to Shang Kong, director of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration, the future Fanjingshan National Park will be the most administrated nature reserve in the world with a higher priority given to the integrity of its ecosystems.

Improving the ecology benefits the economy. In the past decade, Guizhou’s development has leaped forward. Its gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate has been one of the highest in the country for 10 consecutive years, with its economy reaching 2.02 trillion yuan in 2022, double that of 2012. Its forest coverage hit 62%, up 15% over 2012, its water quality is rated 100% good at the boundary sections of major rivers, and the contribution of its green economy to GDP is over 45%.