Wuyi Mountains

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mount Wuyi
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China
Type Mixed
Criteria iii, vi, vii, x
Reference 911
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1999 (23rd Session)

The Wuyi Mountains (Chinese: 武夷山; pinyin: Wǔyí Shān; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Bú-î-soaⁿ) are a mountain range located in the prefecture of Nanping, in northern Fujian province near the border with Jiangxi province, China. The mountains have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,[1] for cultural, scenic, and biodiversity values since 1999.[2]

The Wuyi Mountains are located between Wuyishan City, Nanping prefecture in Fujian province and Wuyishan Town, at Shangrao city in Jiangxi province. The world heritage site has a total area of 99.975 hectares that is divided into four core parts: the Nine-Bend Stream Ecological Protection Area (36,400 ha) in the center, flanked by the Wuyishan National Nature Reserve (56,527 ha) to the west and the Wuyishan National Scenic Area (7,000 ha) to the east. The fourth part, the Protection Area for the Remains of Ancient Han Dynasty (48 ha) is located in a separate area about 15km to the south-east of the others. The core parts are surrounded by an additional buffer zone of 27,888 ha.[3]

Environment[edit]

Geology[edit]

The Yunnu hill, the "symbol" of Wuyi Mountains.

The region is part of the Cathaysian fold system and has experienced high volcanic activity and the formation of large fault structures, which were subsequently subject to erosion by water and weathering. The landscape is characterized by winding river valleys flanked by columnar or dome-shaped cliffs as well as cave systems. Peaks in the western portion of the Wuyi Mountains typically consist of volcanic or plutonic rocks, whereas peaks and hills in the eastern area are made up of red sandstone with very steep slopes but flat tops (Danxia landform). The Nine-bend River (Jiuqu Xi), about 60 kilometers in length, meanders in a deep gorge among these hills. The highest peak in the area is Mount Huanggang at 2,158 metres (7,080 ft) on the border of Fujian and Jiangxi, making it the highest point of both provinces; the lowest altitudes are around 200 metres (660 ft).

Climate[edit]

The Wuyi Mountains act as a protective barrier against the inflow of cold air from the northwest and retain warm moist air originating from the sea. As a result, the area has a humid climate (humidity 80 to 85%) with high rainfall (annual average 2,200 millimeters in the south-west and 3,200 millimeters in the north) and common fogs. Lower altitudes experience annual temperatures in the range from 12 to 18 °C.

The area is relatively pollution free. The Chinese government set up its first air quality monitoring station in the area on January 31, 2005.

Biodiversity[edit]

Flora[edit]

Forest in the nature reserve portion of the Wuyi Mountains.

The Wuyi Mountains are the largest and most representative example of Chinese subtropical forests and South Chinese rainforests' biodiversity. Its ecology has survived from before the Ice Age around 3 million years ago. Biologists have been conducting field research in the area since 1873.

The vegetation of the area depends strongly on altitude. It is divided into 11 broad categories: 1) temperate coniferous forest, 2) warm coniferous forest, 3) temperate broad-leaved and coniferous mixed forest, 4) deciduous and broad-leaved forest, 5) evergreen broad-leaved and deciduous mixed forest, 6) evergreen broad-leaved forest, 7) bamboo forest, 8) deciduous broad-leaved shrub forest, 9) evergreen broad-leaved shrub forest, 10) brush-wood, and 11) meadow steppe. Most common are evergreen broad-leaved forests, some of which make up the largest remaining tracts of humid sub-tropical forests in the world. Higher plants from 284 families, 1,107 genera and 2,888 species as well as 840 species of lower plant and fungus have been reported for the region. The most common tree families are Beech Fagaceae, Laurel (Lauraceae), Camellia (Theaceae), Magnolia (Magnoliaceae), Elaeocarpaceae, and Witchhazel Hamamelidaceae.

Fauna[edit]

Punting on the River of Nine Bends, Wuyishan, China.

The fauna of the Wuyi Mountains is renowned for its high diversity, which includes many rare and unusual species. In total, approximately 5,000 animal species have been reported for the area. 475 of these species are vertebrates and 4,635 insects. The number of vertebrate species is divided as follows:

families species
mammals 23 71
birds 47 256
reptiles 13 73
amphibian 10 35
fish 12 40

Forty-nine vertebrate species are endemic to China and three are endemic to the Wuyi Mountains. The latter are the bird David's Parrotbill (Paradoxornis davidianus), Pope’s Spiny Toad (Vibrissaphora liui), and the Bamboo Snake Pseudoxenodon karlschmidti (family Colubridae). Other known endangered species in the area include: South Chinese Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Hairy-fronted Muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons), Mainland Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis - a goat antelope), Cabot's Tragopan (Tragopan caboti), Chinese Black-backed Pheasant (Syrmaticus ellioti), Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus), and the Golden Kaiserihind (Teinopalpus aureus - a Swallowtail Butterfly).

Human history and culture[edit]

Human settlement on the slopes of Mount Wuyi can be traced back 4,000 years by archeological remains. During the Western Han Dynasty, the ancient city of Chengcun was the capital of the Minyue kingdom. In the 7th century, the Wuyi Palace was built for emperors to conduct sacrificial activities, a site that tourists can still visit today. The mountains were an important center of Taoism and later Buddhism. Remains of 35 academies erected from the era of the Northern Song to the Qin Dynasty and more than 60 Taoist temples and monasteries have been located. However, most of these remains are very incomplete. Some of the exceptions for which authentic remains are preserved are the Taoyuan Temple, the Wannian Palace, the Sanqing Hall, the Tiancheng Temple, the Baiyun temple, and the Tianxin temple. The area is the cradle of Neo-Confucianism, a current that became very influential since the 11th century.

The Wuyi Mountains has a long history of tea cultivation. The four most widely known varieties of Wuyi tea are referred to as the "four famous bushes" (Chinese: ; pinyin: míng cōng): Big Red Robe, Iron Arhat (Chinese: ; pinyin: Tiě Luóhàn), White Cockscomb (Chinese: ; pinyin: Bái Guān), and Golden Turtle (Chinese: ; pinyin: Shuǐ Jīn Guī). Lapsang souchong also originates from the area.

Tourism[edit]

The number of visitors to the area has increased from approximately 424,000 in 1993 to 700,000 in 1998. A raft trip down the Nine-bend River is the most popular activity followed by a visit to the "Thread of Sky" caves, where the narrowest walkway is only 30 cm. Visitor access to the biodiversity protection area is controlled.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Britannica Educational Publishing (2010). The Geography of China: Sacred and Historic Places. The Rosen Publishing Group, Incorporated. p. 115. ISBN 1-61530-134-8. 
  2. ^ Evaluation by UNESCO advisory board (1999)
  3. ^ Mount Wuyi, UNESCO World Heritage List

External links[edit]

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Coordinates: 27°43′N 117°41′E / 27.717°N 117.683°E / 27.717; 117.683