Shennongjia Nature Reserve
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
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Shennongjia Nature Reserve in the western part of Hubei Province lies between Daba and Wudang Mountains. Its geographical location is at 113°3' -110°34' E and 31°22' -31°37' N. Lying between the transitional zone of south-western high mountain and low hilly land of Central China, the Reserve has a total land area of 90,000 ha. Since the function of crustal movement, the Shennongjia Mountain had been from the middle Devonian period raised above the sea level. Through the uplifts of Cenozoic and Mesozoic era and the erosion for many years, the topography is criss-crossed with mountains and rivers;, forming an unusual development and dislocation valley. The Shennong Crest that has been known to be the first peak of Central China, locates in the middle part of the Reserve with the elevation of 3,105 m. There are within the Reserve 31 peaks having their altitude of more than 2,500 m above the sea level. The lowest elevation is 480 m with the relative difference of height at more than 2,500 m. Lying between the transitional region of the northern subtropical and warm temperate zone and locating at the middle reaches of the Yangtse River, the Shennongjia Nature Reserve has concurrently impacted by the southeastern oceanic monsoon and the cold wave from Siberia. The climate there is therefore characterized by four types of subtropical, warm temperate, temperate and cold temperate zones. The formation and development of soils have both the features of the coniferous forest of western crossed mountain range and the mixed coniferous and deciduous forests of Qinling-Bashan upland, and it represents many typical properties of the subtropical soil. Variable conditions of topography, soil and climate have resulted in an age-old character of flora, and variety of the vegetable composition and the resources. The Reserve is a meeting area of the fauna and flora of the Central China, the North China and the Southwestern and northwestern China, having almost all the species of the subtropical, temperate and cold temperate zones. The vertical zonation of the vegetable type is very clear with the man-made forests growing below the elevation of 1,000 m which includes the economic forests of palm tungoiltree, walnut etc; from 1,000 m to 1,700 m of elevation it is the mixed evergreen and deciduous broad-leafed forests including the dovetree, Henry Emmenopterys, lacquertree, Yantao Actinidia, beech and oak etc.; from 2,100 to 2,400 m, the coniferous forest belt of Farges Fir; from 2,400 to 2,800 m, the belt of Farges Fir and Fortune Rhododendron; from 2,800 to 3,000 m, the grove belt of arrow bamboo and 3,000 m up the alpine meadows. According to the statistics, there are in the Reserve approximately 1,131 species of plants, of which 80 are Pteridiphyte, 22 Gymnosperm, 913 Dicotyledon and 116 Monocotyledon. Some 380 species belong to the Xylaphyta, of which, representing the plant species of Daba mountain are the dovetree, Chinese Katsuratree, David Ketelleeria, Farges Fir and Henry Pine etc.; representing the plant species of northwestern part of Qinling Mountain, the Armand Pine, Bunge Pine, Qinling Mountain Fir and Chinapaper birch; representing the flora of Central China the species of Masson Pine, whinghackberry, Chinese Tuliptree and Yangtao Actinidia etc. The Shennongjia Nature Reserve is also rich in wildlife resources. According to the statistics, there are 54 kinds of animals, 190 of birds, 12 of reptile and 8 of amphibian with a variety of entomical species accounting for 81.8% of the 33 order of China. Among these wild animals, the protected ones are Rhinopi-thecus, Panthera tigris amoyensis, Panthera paradus, Felis Temmincki, Chrysolophus, T.Temminckii, and Megaloba- trachus davidianus etc. The animals of the whitenized type in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve have attracted many scientists both from domestic and overseas attaching their great importance to them. The species of whitenized ones found so far are mainly the white bear, white muntjac, white monkey, white serow and white snake etc. Early in 1922, the scientific researchers of China had conducted their survey activities there. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, a lot of State scientific research organizations have also carried out for many times the multi-disciplinary survey in this area. After the establishment of the Reserve, the priority for research work has been given attached to the aspects of the wild ecological habits and the changes of the population of the Rhinopithecua roxellanae. The establishment of the Reserve was approved by the Government of Hubei Province in March of 1982 and ratified by the State Council ranking as the National Nature Reserve in July of 1986. A Supervision Office has been set up in the Reserve with 79 supervisors and technical personnel. In addition, there are three Super-vision Stations and two Local Police Stations. In the Reserve there scatters a number of villages with the inhabitants of more than 7,000. They are mainly engaged in farming activities and the crops are maize, potato, soyabean and oats etc. Since the limitation of the natural conditions of soil and climate, the yielding of the crops is very low. The main cash income of the farmers is mainly based on a diversified economy by raising cattles, pigs and beekeeping as well as collecting the Chinese herbal medicine etc. Owing to the Reserve lying in the mountainous area, the communication is very difficult and always obstructed during the overcast rainly seasons. According to the "Forestry Act" and "The Protection and Management Measures for the Wildlife in the Nature Reserves", the Shennongjia Nature Reserve has also developed a "Rules for Protection of the Shennongjia Nature Reserve: and conducted a responsibility system of the protection work. On the basis of dividing areas for protection, the contractural system has been adopted for ali the supervisors, and since then, the rampant felling and the forest fire have never occurred. The local government has energetically given its support to the protection work and carried out a favourable policy of exemption of farming taxes for the farmers in the Reserve area. To solve the problem of the shortage of grain ration, the government has in recent years allotted some 500000 kg of grain to the people in the Reserve. The Supervision Office of the Reserve has also actively given their aid to the local people in organizing the surplus labourers to contract some sideline production so as to increase their income. The Shennongjia Nature Reserve is a typical zonation of plant species of subtropical, temperate and cold temperate zones in the central part of China. The Reserve is obviously a converging area for the fauna and flora of the southwest and northwest China, the Central China, South China and North China, of which many of them have been ranked as the rare species with important scientific research value. The Reserve provides an ideal base for the directional research to the forest ecological system. Especially, since the discovery of the whitenized species of some large wildlife in this area, the scientific circles both the domestic and overseas are paying great attention to explore and explain the natural phenomena. The Shennongjia Nature Reserve has an attractive landscape with a lofty mountains and boundless forests. The magical nature offers you with a magnificent scenery of hot summer at the hill foot and spring on the ridge while the clear autumn comes to the hillsides, the hilltops are coated with snow. All the seasons are present before you, people could hardly distinguish the spring, summer, autumn and winter :in the same period. The Shennongjia Nature Reserve being protected as the natural heritage is of significant and fully deserve. With the improvement of the management work, it would no doubt make more contribution to the natural protection activities of China and the world as well.