YU Luo Rioux

The central square of Bangla Village in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province, near the Xishuangbanna Nature Preserve. The ethnic minorities who live in the area benefit from a temperate, moist climate, as does the rest of the biodiverse population. The wooded nature preserve is the habitat for exotic trees and flowers, and the haunt of rare birds and animals. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Natural Preserve Zones were established in 1956 in China. The following years saw a slow increase in numbers, from nineteen zones designated in 1956 to fifty-nine in 1979. As of 2007, 303 natural preserves on the national level had been set up throughout China’s provinces and Autonomous Regions to preserve the unique natural scenic beauty and the biodiversity of rare or endangered animal and plant species.

The establishment of natural preserve zones—also called nature reserve zones—marked a milestone in China’s growing awareness of and efforts at environmental protection. The first such zone was established in 1956. China had nineteen zones by 1965 and fifty-nine by 1979, many of which were later devastated due to lack of attention during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). By 1985, 360 natural preserve zones, found throughout China’s provinces and Autonomous Regions (A.R.s), had been designated as a result of the Environmental Protection Law issued in 1979, followed by a series of laws and decrees for natural environment and resources protection.

Natural preserve zones are usually designated by legislatures on different administrative levels, ranging from state departments to provincial governments to county governments. By 1990, 606 natural preserve zones on all levels had been set up after passage of the China Nature Protection Compendia in 1978. As of August 2007 303 nature reserve zones at the national level had been established, and there were 2,349 nature reserves (of all levels) covering 1.5 million square kilometers, or some 15.6 percent China’s land territory.

Dinghushan (Guangdong Province) was the first national natural preserve zone, established in 1956. Dinghushan has a lake on its summit in the shape of a ding (an ancient cooking and sacrificial utensil with two loop handles and three legs), hence its name. With its lush forests, the preserve is celebrated as a “living museum of natural history” and “the gene reserve” for south China biological species.

Changbaishan Nature Reserve (southeastern Jilin Province) was set up in 1960 and promoted to a national natural preserve zone in 1986. It is the zone in China incorporated into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program. Changbaishan includes forest (16,081 hectares, 87.9 percent coverage), grassland (5,683 hectares), lakes, volcanoes, hot springs, and rare animals and vegetation. Changbaishan is noted for its biodiversity; 59 of its 1,255 known wildlife species and 25 of its 2,277 known wild plant species are classified under first-class national protection. Tianchi ?? (Celestial Pool, 402 hectares) is a volcanic lake, the deepest lake in China (reaching a depth of 312.7 meters). A dozen hot springs (60°C–82°C) cluster around Tianchi, reflecting the Changbai Waterfall.

Wolong ?? National Nature Reserve (northwestern Sichuan Province, 200,000 hectares), the third largest in the nation, was established in 1963. As the first natural resource-protection special administrative district founded in China, Wolong was integrated into the UNESCO MAB program in 1980. As the core area for giant panda protection and research, Wolong was named a World Natural Heritage site in 2006, providing a habitat for more than fifty species of wildlife, three hundred species of birds, and other rare species.

“Pure Buddhist Mountain”

Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (northeastern Guizhou Province) was established in 1978, promoted to a national nature reserve in 1986, and enlisted in the UNESCO MAB Protection Network in the same year. Fanjingshan, meaning “pure Buddhist mountain,” has had a national reputation since the sixteenth century for its cultural heritage of numerous Buddha temples, attracting pilgrims to its beauty. Its steles (carved or inscribed stone slabs or pillars used for commemorative purposes) showcase the treasures of traditional Chinese calligraphy. In a religious sense the colorful halo appearing on the summit is a sign of auspiciousness.

Wuyishan ??? National Nature Reserve (northern Fujian Province) was established in 1979 and integrated into the UNESCO MAB Program in 1986. The reserve has the largest and best-preserved semi-subtropical forest ecosystem on the same latitude in the world. In addition to the precious animal and plant species that inhabit this reserve, Wuyishan is noted for its scenic landscape.

Xilin Gol ???? National Natural Reserve (Inner Mongolia A. R., 1.1 million hectares) was designated in 1985 and promoted to a national nature reserve in 1997. It was incorporated into the UNESCO MAB Program in 1987. Xilin Gol is the first grassland reserve in the nation established for precious wildlife and plant species.

To date, twenty-eight national nature reserve zones have been incorporated into the UNESCO MAB Program, including the zones discussed earlier. Additional natural preserve zones integrated into the UNESCO MAB Program (listed chronologically and followed by what they are meant to protect) include:

? Shenlongjia Nature Reserve (1990) in Hubei Province (golden monkey, dove tree, and other endangered primitive plants and animals)

? Mount Bogda Nature Reserve (1990) in Xinjiang Uygur A. R. (endangered animals, including swans and leopards)

? Yancheng Nature Reserve (1992) in Jiangsu Province (red-crowned crane and other precious birds)

? Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve (1992) in Yunnan Province (tropical rainforest ecosystem)

? Tianmushan Nature Reserve (1996) in Zhejiang Province (subtropical forest ecosystem)

? Maolan Nature Reserve (1996) in Guizhou Province (karst [limestone] forest ecosystem)

? Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve (1997) in Sichuan Province (natural scenic landscape)

? Fenglin Nature Reserve (1997) in Heilongjiang Province (red pine)

? Nanlu Islands Nature Reserve (1997) in Zhejiang Province (wildlife, plants, natural scenery, and cultural landscape)

? Shankou Nature Reserve (2000) in Guangxi Zhuang A. R. (mangrove ecosystem)

? Baishuijiang Nature Reserve (2000) in Gansu Province (giant panda)

? Huanglong Nature Reserve (2000) in Sichuan Province (colorful pools and giant panda)

? Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve (2000) in Yunnan Province (subtropical animals and plants)

? Baotianman Nature Reserve (2001) in Henan Province (temperate-subtropical ecotone [relating to a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities] ecosystem)

? Sai Hanwula Nature Reserve (2002) in Inner Mongolia A. R. (ecotone plant and animal species)

? Dalai Nur (Hulun Lake) Nature Reserve (2002) in Inner Mongolia A. R. (wetland and grassland ecosystems)

? Wudalianchi Nature Reserve (2003) in Heilongjiang Province (volcanic natural ecosystem)

? Yading Nature Reserve (2003) in Sichuan Province (alpine natural scenery and cultural heritage)

? Mount Everest Nature Reserve (2004) in Tibet (Xizang) A. R. (precious wildlife and alpine plant species on the world’s highest peak)

? Foping Nature Reserve (2004) in Shaanxi Province (giant panda and other rare animals and plants)

? Xingkaihu Nature Reserve (2006) in Heilongjiang Province (high-altitude wetland ecosystem)

? Chebaling Nature Reserve (2007) in Guangdong Province (semi-subtropical wildlife and plants).

The list of natural preserve zones will enlarge year by year. In January 2008 the SEPAC (State Environment Protection Administration of China) established an additional nineteen national nature reserve zones: Baihuashan (Beijing Municipality); Upper Reaches of the Luanhe River and Maojingba (Hebei Province); Daqingshan (Inner Mongolia A. R.); Zhenbaodao Wetland, Hongxing Wetland, and Shuanghe (Heilongjiang Province); Junzifeng (Fujian Province); Poyang Lake Nanji Wetland and Matoushan (Jiangxi Province); Kunyushan (Shandong Province); Qizimeishan (Hubei Province); Jiemuxi, Bamianshan, and Leizhou Rare Marine Creatures (Guangdong Province); Jinzhongshan Mrs Hume’s Bar-tailed Pheasant (Guangxi Zhuang A. R.); Diaoluoshan (Hainan Province); Haizishan (Sichuan Province); and Tianhuashan (Shaanxi Province).

Further Reading

Lu Dadao. (2004). Chinese national geography. Zhengzhou, China: Daxiang Press.

Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council & China Overseas Exchanges Association. (2006). Common knowledge about Chinese geography (4th ed.). Hong Kong: Hong Kong China Tourism Press.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (n.d.). Biosphere reserve information: China, Xilin Gol. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?code=CPR+05&mode=all

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization & World Heritage Convention. (2007). World heritage: Challenges for the millennium. Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Center.

Source: Yu, Luo Rioux. (2009). Natural Preserve Zones. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 1563–1565. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Natural Preserve Zones (Zìrán b?ohùq? ?????)|Zìrán b?ohùq? ????? (Natural Preserve Zones)

Download the PDF of this article