The Hengduan Mountains
|Elevation||7,556 m (24,790 ft)|
|Countries||China and Burma|
The Hengduan Mountains (simplified Chinese: 横断山脉; traditional Chinese: 橫斷山脈; pinyin: Héngduàn Shānmài) is a large mountainous region in southwest China (Latitude: 22°~32°05'N, Longitude: 97°~ 103°E), forming the south-eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and adjacent from the west to the Sichuan Basin.
The mountainous region occupies most of the western part of the present-day Sichuan province (the pre-1955 Xikang), as well as the northwestern corner of Yunnan province and the easternmost section of Tibet Autonomous Region. This approximates the historical region known as Kham.
The Hengduan Mountains system consist of many mountain ranges, most of which run roughly north to south. Among them are the great Daxue and Qionglai ranges, defining the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the western rim of the Sichuan Basin. Smaller ranges forming the eastern edge of the Hengduan system include the Daxiangling and Xiaoxiangling ranges.
In the southwestern part of the Hengduan Mountain region, three great rivers of China and Southeast Asia - Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong (Lancang) and Salween (Nujiang) - run in deep parallel valleys separated by mountain ranges that are components of the Hengduan system. The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas is created to protect the environment of that region. A bit further to the southeast, the Yangtze changes direction several times, and passes through the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains and Haba Xueshan.
Plant and animal life
Part of the mountains are within the Nujiang Langcang Gorge alpine conifer and mixed forests ecoregion and are largely covered in subalpine conifer forest. Elevations range from 1,300 to 6,000 metres (4,300 to 20,000 ft). The dense, pristine forest, the relative isolation and the fact that most of the area remained free from glaciation during the ice ages provides a very complex habitat with a high degree of biological diversity. This mountainous region is home to the rare and endangered Giant Panda. Other species native to the mountains are the Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis) and various other rare plants, deer, and primates.
Environmental groups have recognized this ecoregion as being threatened by "a growing human population and the resulting demand for non-timber forests and wildlife products for medicinal and other uses".
- "Nujiang Langcang Gorge alpine conifer and mixed forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- http://researcharchive.calacademy.org/research/cnhp/glgs/PDF/ChaplinG.2005_opt.pdf Physical Geography of the Gaoligong Shan Area of Southwest China in Relation to Biodiversity
- Ecoregions at panda.org
- Detailed description of area by David E Boufford, Peter Paul van Dijk and Lu Zhi of Biodiversity Science
- Biodiversity of the Hengduan Mountains and adjacent areas of south-central China - a research project at Harvard University
- PBS NOVA's First Flower discusses botanical diversity in the Hengduan Shan
- The 26 mountains of Yunnan