Guancen Mountain -- Luya Mountain
National Commission of the People's Republic of China
Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
The area of nominated property Luya Mountain component is 343.32 km2, with a buffer zone of 97.72 km2.The area of Tianchi component is 68.61 km2, with a buffer zone of 32.66 km2.
Guanqin Mountain is a mountain extention at the north side of Luliang Mountains in Shanxi, with an average altitude ranging between 1800 m and 2000 m, and an area of 44,000 km2. The Guanqin Mountain region features complex topography and geomorphology, including earth-rocky mountain area, loess hilly area and fluvial morphology.
The nominated property Luya Mountain is located in Ningwu County, Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province. It is the source of Fen River and Sanggan River, also the main peak of Guanqin Mountain. The highest summit of Luya Mountain is Heyeping with an elevation of 2,782 m.
Luya Mountain Component: 111°49′54″-112°9′56″ E, 38°41′24″-38°58′10″ N
Tianchi Component: 112°10′24″-112°17′13″ E, 38°48′19″-38°54′46″ N
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The site is among the priority zones with outstanding universal values in biodiversity for world natural heritage nomination. Intact ecosystem, unique location and complex geology lead to a spectacular natural scenery and rich biodiversity.
Luya Mountain is located at the transition zone between temperate grasslands, woodlands and shrublands, Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, and montane grasslands and shrublands, and also at the bio-geology crossing point of Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang region, loess plateau, North China plain and Qinghai-Tibetan area. Luya Mountain has the largest and most complete original Prince Rupprecht’s larch Larix principis-rupprechtii forest ecosystem in North China. It is an outstanding example of biological evolution and interaction between human and natural environment. It is also home to several vertebrates endemic to North China, including the Brown-eared pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum, the Siberian musk deer Moschus moschiferus and the North-Chinese leopard Panthera pardus japonensis.
Criterion (vii): There are almost 700 km2 original Prince Rupprecht’s larch Larix principis-rupprechtii forest, 546.7 km2 natural secondary forest, and 440km2 subalpine meadow in and around the nominated property. The rare intact original forest, is the last episode of the ancient ecosystem that nourished the agricultural civilization in North China at the end of the quaternary ice age. The nominated property is known as the home to Prince Rupprecht’s Larch and Chinese Dragon Spruce Picea meyeri. There are large patches of subalpine bush and meadow in the high elevation area of Luya Mountain, and remaining typical tundra landscape. The landscape reminds every visitor what the scene of the cradle for Chinese civilization looks like.
There are various sandstone and loess geomorphy and grand valley and cliff landscape in the nominated property, with mysterious ice caves and crystal alpine lakes. These landscapes form the main geological scenery of the nominated property.
Criterion (ix): The nominated property is situated in the Oriental Deciduous Forest biogeographical province，Palearctic realm. It is within the gaps for biodiversity world natural heritage identified by IUCN in 2013.
Prince Rupprecht's larch (Larix principis-rupprechtii) is an endemic species in the Shanxi and Hebei Provinces in China (in mountains higher than 1600m). In Shanxi Luya Mountain, it is concentrated with a large area and intact community structure. Prince Rupprecht’s larch forest is the main component of Luya Mountain forest ecosystem, and also the main habitat to the endemic species such as Brown-eared Pheasant Crossoptilon mantchuricum, grey-sided thrush Turdus feae, North-Chinese leopard Panthera pardus japonensis, as well as many other macro fungi, moss and ferns. The Prince Rupprecht’s larch forest has the biggest area and range, is the dominate species in Luya Mountain forest, and forms the main scenery. The average volume of the natural forest is 155.2m3 per km2. The total forest stock of Luya Mountain natural forest is about 12,000,000 m3.
In the nominated property, the Prince Rupprecht’s larch forest grows in a good condition with a complete community structure and vegetation, high productivity, conical crowns and beautiful shapes, forming a golden vegetation scenery in autumn. This species can bear cold and dry weather in mountains above 1600m, making it very fit for forestation in mountainous area. In the shady slopes between 1,800-2,500m elevations of Luya Mountain concentrate the Prince Rupprecht’s larch forests with mountain brown forest soil. In understory there are very thick litter layers, inhabiting lots of ferns.
There are a rich vegetation perpendicular band distribution, including benchland(1,346-1,600 m), bush grassland and agriculture(1,600-1,750m), low mountain deciduous forest(1,450-1,600 m), cold boreal conifer forest(1,820-2,600m) and subalpine bush meadow(2,400-2,782 m). The cold boreal conifer forest band mainly consists of the Prince Rupprecht’s larch and dragon spruce, and represented by the Bingkouwa, is the main protected target landscape of Luya Mountain nominated property, and also the important habitat to brown eared pheasants. There is diverse flora in subalpine bush meadow (2,400-2,782 m), with vegetation patterns such as forb meadow, sedge meadow, kobresia meadow and so on, very similar to the Tibetan flora. This subalpine bush meadow has a large area and forms a unique natural landscape, different from the flora in Taihang Mountains and Yan Mountain. There may be some endemic and narrowly distributed species evolving from glacial period relic species (e.g. plants and insects) in this kind of habitat, and forms unique ecosystem.
The cold temperate conifer forest and subalpine bush meadow ecosystem reflect the evolution process of the receding of conifer forest and alpine meadow and north intruding of deciduous forest after the glacial period of loess plateau. It is a rare intact forest ecosystem that has not been greatly disturbed by human being.
The cold temperate conifer forest in nominated property is also the main water source forest of Fen River, the mother river of Shanxi Province. The ecosystem provide essential ecosystem service of regulate climate and flood, keep water supply, air purification, preventing soil erosion and biodiversity conservation to the population of the whole watershed.
Luya Mountain is one of areas in loess plateau with the richest biodiversity from fungi, plants, insects to mammals. The nominated property is located in the north part of Luliang Mountain with a warm temperate zone semi-humid monsoon climate. There are macro fungi of 31 orders, 103 families, 275 species; lichen of 17 orders, 26 families, 38 species; algae of 24 orders, 35 families, 100 species; moss of 28 orders, 46 families, 71 species; fern of 8 orders, 11 families, 16 species; spermatophyte of 90 orders, 417 families, 1002 species. Among them, glycine ussuriensis is second level state protected. Acanthopanax, Aconitum ningwuense, Aconitum smithii, Rhodiola rosea, Codonopsis pilosula are provincial protected species. Endemic species include Ostryopsis davidiana, Larix principis-rupprechtii, Aconitum ningwuense, etc.
There are insects of 5 orders, 46 families, 400 species; spiders of 17 orders, 41 genus, 77 species; fish of 3 orders, 5 families, 15 species; amphibians of 1 order, 3 families, 5 species; reptiles of 2 orders,4 families, 14 species; birds of 17 orders, 48 genus, 249 species; mammals of 6 orders, 16 genus, 50 species.
There are 8 class I national protected animal species include Brown Eared Pheasant, fontanierii subspecies of North-Chinese leopard Panthera pardus japonensis, Siberian musk deer Moschus moschiferus, black stork Ciconia nigra, and 37 class II national protected animal species, 22 provincial protected wild animal species. Chinese endemic species include fish like Triplophysa wuweiensis, Triplophysa robusta, Triplophysa pappenheimi, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, Gnathopogon polytaenia,Gobio rivuloides, Gekkosuinhouna Gunther; reptiles like Gekko swinhonis; Birds like brown eared pheasants Phoenicurus alaschanicus, Plain Laughingthrush, Chinese Hill Warbler Rhopophilus pekinensis; mammals like sciurotamias davidianus, Vespertilio murinus, Myospalax fontanierii, Grey Red-Backed Vole Myodes rufocanus, Tibetan pika Ochotona thibetana.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The nominated property boundaries are appropriately drawn to protect the naturalness of the landscape and the areas required to maintain the scenic qualities of the property. The property, although relatively small, includes all of the intact forest ecosystem and habitat for its aesthetic and biodiversity values. Boundaries are accurately surveyed and demarcated. The property’s integrity is enhanced by the designation of a buffer zone that is not part of the inscribed property. The nominated property is sparsely populated and not disturbed by anthropogenic activities.
Comparison with other similar properties
There are another 2 listed world natural heritage taking cold temperate boreal forest and biodiversity outstanding universal values as criteria, the Shirakami-Sanchi and the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany. Compared with these 2 world heritage sites, the nominated property is protecting a very different species, Prince Rupprecht’s larch, and endemic to China. It is the outstanding representative of north China cold temperate conifer forest and subalpine bush meadow, filling the gap of biodiversity world natural heritage in this area.
In China there are other listed world natural heritage with the OUV of aesthetic values and biodiversity such as Hubei Shennongjia and Sanqingshan, all of which are in the south of China, not covering the vegetation types and ecological process of the nominated property.
Luya Mountain is the only largest, most complete, and best-quality boreal conifer forest ecosystem. Compared with Taihang Mountains and Yan Mountains nearby, the Luliang Mountains where the nominated property is situated has a series of Tibetan flora in subalpine bush meadow, which differentiated the nominated property from other mountains in natural history and flora. Furthermore, the subalpine bush meadow of Luliang Mountains concentrates in Luya Mountain area. The following tables demonstrate the vertical zonation of vegetation in three mountains.