UNESCO recognition spurs greater conservation efforts at Mt. Fanjing
Fanjing Mountain in Guizhou has come into the world spotlight, with the site in southwest China being inscribed this week on to UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Landscape of the Hongyun Golden Summit on the Fanjing Mountain in Jiangkou county, Tongren city, southwest China's Guizhou province, 11 September 2012. [File photo: IC]
Local officials say further conservation plans are now in the works as a result.
Fanjing Mountain has become the 13th site in China included on UNESCO's Natural Heritage List.
The latest inclusion is part of ongoing World Heritage Committee meetings in Bahrain.
In tapping Fanjing Mountain for a listing, UNESCO officials note the mountain meets the criteria of a natural heritage site, namely a unique biodiversity and complete ecosystem.
UN officials also say the mountain maintains a subtropical mountain ecosystem and has distinct species diversity.
Ma Keping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany, says it's the distinct geological and geographical conditions of Fanjing Mountain that has created its ecosystem.
"Featuring the karst landscape, Fanjing Mountain has formed its own shape. It stands out from its surroundings, and developed into this unique biodiversity and ecosystem. Fanjing Mountain is distinctive, because it's the only habitat of Guizhou golden monkey and Fanjing Mountain Firs. In other words, you can only find them here in Fanjing Mountain. "
64 unique plants and flowers, as well as 38 animals species living on Fanjing Mountain, have been listed in The International Union for Conservation of Nature as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered.
They include animals such as the Guizhou Golden Monkey, Giant salamanders, Forest Musk deer and Asian Black Bear.
Fanjing also includes one of the largest reserves of beech tree forests in Asia.
Located in the more remote eastern areas of Guizhou near the city of Tongren, Fanjing Mountain is the main peak in the Wuling Mountains, which is also the fourth world natural heritage site in the province.
It's also listed as a sacred Buddhist mountain in China.
Now that Fanjing Mountain has UNESCO World Heritage Status, this gives local conservation officials more access to international funds to help protect the site.
It also obliges officials to keep and maintain the site to the highest of standards.
As such, officials say they've already started to speed up local legislation to better protect the environment and ensure ecological preservation of the mountain.
Yang Tongguag, deputy mayor of Tongren, says they have to ensure that Fanjing doesn't become damaged by the likely increase in tourists to the site.
"At the early stages of applying for UNESCO World Heritage, we had already drafted a protection and management plan. We will revise the plan now that the site has been included on the heritage list. In the future, any construction projects related to this area, being natural reserves or scenic spots, must be in line with the requirements in the plan."
This year's World Heritage Committee meeting is discussing 28 nominations to the World Heritage List, including five natural sites, 20 cultural sites and three mixed ones.
Currently China ranks just behind Italy as the country which boasts the most sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List.