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Taihang Mountain

Date of Submission: 28/02/2017
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
National Commission of the People's Republic of China
State, Province or Region:
Hebei Province, Shanxi Province, Henan Province
Ref.: 6188
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Description

Hebei Section: 113°27′44.30″-115°57′18.02″ E, 36°16′03.96″- 40°21′07.54″N

Shanxi Section: Huangya Cave Scenice and historic area         113° 23′ 37″ E, 36° 46′ 53″ N

Henan Section: Wangwu Mountain Scenice and historic area  112° 17′ 40″ E, 35° 8′ 50″ N

                          Yuntai Mountain Scenice and historic area     113° 21′ 23″ E, 35° 25′ 58″ N

The special relics of geology, stratum, rock, structure, sedimentation, ancient extinct life fossil and hydrology, as well as the unique Zhangshiyan landform of Taihang Mountain have recorded the long geological history and profound changes (several movements of crustal rising, destructive activities, and fault block activities) of the Loess Plateau and step zone of Bohai Bay Basin in eastern Asia for over 2.5 billion years. It is a typical example of mountain range geological evolution in the hinterland of ancient continent (craton).

Located at the intersection of the Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang region, the Loess Plateau region, the North China Plain region and the Tibet region, Taihang Mountain is endowed with complex biological components. It is an important geographical unit of global biodiversity and one of the central distribution areas of endemic birds in the world, as well as an important corridor for the survival of rare species in Northern China.

Taihang Mountain, represented by the unique Zhangshiyan landform, has towering peaks, deep gorges, continuous waterfalls, peculiar caves. Together with the unique ecological landscape, astronomical phenomena in four seasons and beautiful colors, it has formed a special kind of long painting with mountains and rivers at the turning place of two major tablelands in China.

Different parts of the nominated site are described below:

(1) Taihang Mountains (Hebei Section)

The most typical part of the Hebei section of Taihang Mountains lies in the Zhangshiyan National Geological Park/National Park/Provincial Nature Reserve, located in Zanhuang County on the southwest of Shijiazhuang. The unique red sandstone landform represented by Ω-shaped gorges is known as “Zhangshiyan landform”, forming a “natural geological museum”. As the most intact and complete “natural botanical garden”, the area is home to 654 plant species in 98 families, as well as rare animals such as the black stork (Ciconia nigra).

 (2) Huangya Cave Scenice and historic area, Shanxi

Huangyadong National Forest Park is located in Changzhi, Shanxi in the middle section of Taihang Mountains. The Huangyadong area is famous for the unique palaeontological relics – microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISSs), formed through the growth, destruction and decomposition of microbial mats. The MISSs in this area show the interaction between microbial communities and the environment, and are highly valuable for microbiological and palaeontological research.

(3) Wangwu Mountain Scenice and historic area, Henan

Wangwu Mountain National Park is located in Jiyuan, Henan in the south of Taihang Mountains. Wangwu Mountains is a distinctive specimen of the geological tectonic movement in ancient North China continent. The products of sedimentation and tectono-thermal events from Archaean Eon to Cenozoic Era are clearly exposed, while the angular unconformity and tectonic relics formed during the Precambrian land formation and mountain formation are well preserved. The distinctive structures formed during the Wangwu Mountain Event such as folds, ancient volcanoes and ancient volcanic remains are direct evidence for the processes of the rifting and collision of North China continent during the Precambrian period.

Wangwu Mountain is a Taoist sacred place, listed as the first of the “Ten Great Grotto-Heavens” during the Han-Wei period. There are now three ancient Taoist temples in Wangwu Mountain: Ziwei Palace, built in 699 A.D., of which only the remains are left nowadays; Yangtai Palace, first built in 727 A.D. and rebuilt in Ming Dynasty; Qingxu Palace, first built in Tang Dynasty, rebuilt in Ming Dynasty and repaird in Qing Dynasty. In the three temples are preserved over a hundred historical stone tablets and tens of Taoist statues, constituting precious material for studies of Chinese Taoist history and history of calligraphy.

 (4) Yuntai Mountain Scenice and historic area, Henan

Yuntai Mountain National Park is located in Jiaozuo, Henan in the south of Taihang Mountains. Yuntai Mountains have unique landforms. The alternates and crossings of peaks and valleys, as well as cliff walls and steps along the cliffs form a secondary landform named Yuntai Landform. Yuntai Sky Waterfall, which has the largest drop (314 m) in Asia, also locates here and forms unique geological scenery. Yuntai Mountains have a wild Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) population which locates in highest latitude area in China, and critically endangered invertebrate animals, Craspedacusta xinyangens, as well as more than 400 kinds of seed plants. All of these show a high biodiversity in this area.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Taihang Mountain, represented by the unique Zhangshiyan landform, has towering peaks, deep gorges, continuous waterfalls, peculiar caves. Together with the unique ecological landscape, astronomical phenomena in four seasons and beautiful colors, it has formed a special kind of long painting with mountains and rivers at the turning place of two major tablelands in China.

Criterion (iii): Nihewan Site is a unique testimony for the origin and evolution of civilization of human from the Palaeolithic Age to the early Neolithic Age. In Nihewan Basin, more than 80 sites of early human cultural relics have been found, and tens of thousands pieces of ancient human fossils, animal fossils and various stones have been unearthed, they almost record the whole process of evolution from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age, and advance the origin of Asian culture to 2 million years ago, relics of ancient human activities 2 million years ago have been found here other than in East Africa, which puts forward a significant challenge to "the only African human origin theory". At the same time, the scenes of ancient human eating something, which are extremely rare in the world's Paleolithic archaeological excavations, which happened 2 million years ago and which are recuperable, have been found. It can be said that this group of sites has directly changed the world history about human origins and development of human civilization and becomes a shrine for human seeking their roots.

Criterion (vii): Taihang Mountain, represented by unique Zhangshiyan landform, has towering peaks, deep gorges, continuous waterfalls, peculiar caves. Together with the unique ecological landscape, astronomical phenomena in four seasons and beautiful colors, it has formed a rare landscape gallery at the turning place of two major tablelands in China.

Criterion (viii): The special relics of geology, stratum, rock, structure, sedimentation, ancient extinct life fossil and hydrology, as well as the unique Zhangshiyan landform and Yuntai landform of Taihang Mountain have recorded the long geological history and profound changes (several movements of crustal rising, destructive activities, and fault block activities) of loess plateau and step zone of Bohai Bay Basin in eastern Asia for over 2.5 billion years. It is a typical example of mountain range geological evolution in the hinterland of ancient continent (craton).

Taihang Mountain is a typical example of the mountain range form in eastern Asia. The section of Taihang Mountain in Hebei Province is located at the east of the major ridge of Taihang Mountain, being the section that best demonstrates the majestic appearance of the towering Taihang among Beijing Municipality, Hebei Province, Shanxi Province and Henan Province. Zhangshiyan landform is the geomorphologic landscape that develops widely in the central and southern sections of Taihang Mountain. Zhangshiyan landform is the geologic record of landform evolution and strong uplifting of the mountain system in Taihang Mountain region and even the entire North China since the Neogene period and has become an important example of the strong uplifting of Taihang Mountain in the Quaternary period. The complex topography and long evolution history of Taihang Mountain are also very rare among existing mountain world heritage sites and have extremely high aesthetic and scientific research value.

Criterion (x): The Taihang Mountains contain rare, almost intact natural secondary forests, alpine meadows and steep slopes. The region is a key habitat for many species endemic to China, such as Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus fontanierii), brown eared pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum), green-backed flycatcher (Ficedula elisae) and grey-sided thrush (Turdus feae). The Zhangshiyan landform of Taihang Mountains also is the only habitat for rare endemic plants such as Taihangia rupestris var. Taihangia, Clematis lanuginose, Oresitrophe rupifraga and Corydalis fangshanensis. The waterfront cliffs of Taihang mountains provide unique breeding habitats for black stork (Ciconia nigra), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo). The valleys provide key wintering area for endangered Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus). Meanwhile, the region is an important corridor for most migrating raptors in East Asia. In a word, the Taihang Mountains constitute a unique geographic unit for biodiversity conservation.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The nominated sites include typical relics of stratum, rock, structure, sedimentation, ancient extinct life fossil and hydrology that can reflect heritage value, as well as nature reserves. They are intact in terms of elements, range and value.

The nominated sites are all national protected areas, such as national scenic area, national nature reserve, national geological park and national forest park, and are all strictly protected by relevant laws in China and are all well preserved. Therefore, both the heritage itself and related environment have good authenticity.

Comparison with other similar properties

Compared with other geological heritage, Taihang Mountain is a fault block mountain range, flat and open peak and large area of ancient planation surfaces. The unique form of mountain chain is a typical example of mountain chains in eastern Asia.

Taihang Mountain is also a typical example of mountain ranges formed by tectonic activity of the earth’s crust in the Cenozoic era and upwarping of fault block on ancient continents, recording the process and history of the long crustal evolution. The geological history of Taihang Mountain is so long that no other existing mountain world heritage site can match.

Taihang Mountain sites on the unique step-fault zone of the Loess Plateau and North China Plain, with huge altitude difference in landform (2,000 meters), good vegetation cover, cool climate and larger precipitation, creating the magnificent, spectacular and graceful geomorphologic landscape, which is also unique.