Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
Stretching over 72,000 ha in the northern part of Sichuan Province, the jagged Jiuzhaigou valley reaches a height of more than 4,800 m, thus comprising a series of diverse forest ecosystems. Its superb landscapes are particularly interesting for their series of narrow conic karst land forms and spectacular waterfalls. Some 140 bird species also inhabit the valley, as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda and the Sichuan takin.
Outstanding Universal Value
The Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area is a reserve of exceptional natural beauty with spectacular jagged alpine mountains soaring above coniferous forest around a fairyland landscape of crystal clear, strange-coloured blue, green and purplish pools, lakes, waterfalls, limestone terraces, caves and other beautiful features. These include a number of karst formations; indeed the area is a "natural museum" for alpine karst hydrology and research. Covering 72,000 ha in the northern part of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou preserves a series of important forest ecosystems including old-growth forests which provide important habitat for numerous threatened species of plants and animals, including the giant panda and takin. Attaining heights of 4,752 m in the southern Minshan Mountains, Jiuzhaigou also contains an important number of well-preserved quaternary glacial remnants with great scenic value.
Criterion (vii): Jiuzhaigou is renowned for its scenic and aesthetic majesty. Its fairyland landscape of numerous lakes, waterfalls, and limestone terraces, with their attractive, clear, mineral-rich waters, set in the spectacular alpine mountains with a highly diverse forest ecosystem, demonstrates remarkable natural beauty.
Jiuzhaigou contains all the elements necessary to demonstrate and protect its natural beauty, and is surrounded by buffer zones. Although the site was partially degraded by previous forestry activities, it is recovering through tree planting and strict management which includes protecting water quality, air quality, and forests. At time of inscription some 800 residents in six villages lived inside the site, with the policy being to seek voluntary agreement to gradually reduce the human population within the reserve.
Protection and management requirements
As a national park and a national nature reserve, Jiuzhaigou is protected by national and provincial laws and regulations, which secure the long-term management and conservation of the Property. In 2004, the Sichuan Provincial Regulation on World Heritage Protection in Sichuan and the Regulation on Implementing Sichuan Provincial Regulation on World Heritage Protection in Aba Autonomous Prefecture became law, which provided a stricter basis for protection of the property.
The Administration Bureau of the Jiuzhaigou World Heritage Site, established in 2006, ensures the site complies with Aba Prefecture’s Guidelines of Implementing Sichuan Provincial Regulations on World Heritage Protection. This Administration Bureau contains 21 departments, including a natural protection department, a multi-disciplinary science department, a planning and construction department, and a resident management office. A General Plan for Jiuzhaigou National Park is in place and approved by the national government, which provides a framework for the protection and management of the park, including a detailed monitoring plan for park resources. Water resources, biodiversity, forest pests and diseases, and weather and climate are all monitored under this plan. In addition, the plan provides for protection of biodiversity, traditional culture, and the environment under increased tourism development. As part of the monitoring and protection of Jiuzhaigou, the Science Department is intimately involved in collaborative research with both domestic and international universities and researchers. Important areas of research and monitoring include the evolution of Jiuzhaigou’s tufa deposits; air and water quality; archaeology; meadow reforestation and biodiversity; and human-landscape interactions. The results of these research projects form the basis for new management policies. The continuing growth in tourism is a challenge and of concern, and many remedial actions to control the effects of human activities have been undertaken based on the research and monitoring projects.
The valley lies in the southern part of the Min Shan Range, approximately 330 km from the provincial capital of Chengdu and includes the catchment areas of the Shizheng, Rize and Zechawa gullies, which join Jiuzhaigou Valley.
Lying on the edge of the diverging belt between the Qinghai-Tibet Plate and the Yangtze Plate, there are major fault lines running through the site: earthquakes are not uncommon and have been a major influence on the geological landscape. Of greater geological interest, are the high-altitude karst landforms that have been strongly influenced by glacial, hydrological and tectonic activity.
The best known features are the large number of lakes in the area: many are classic ribbon lakes, at the base of glacially formed valleys, which have been dammed naturally, for example behind rock falls from avalanches. Processes of carbonate deposition are responsible for the cementation and stabilization of these dams. A number of the lakes are bounded on the upstream and downstream sides by calcareous tufa dykes and shoals. In two places, there are a stepped series of lakes, like terraces separated by these tufa dykes. These sites, Shuzheng Lakes and Nuorilang Lakes, with 19 and 18 lakes respectively, can be compared with the travertine pools of Huanglong Scenic Area to the south. They are less well-developed geologically but are much larger in size.
Also of note are a number of large and spectacular waterfalls, including Xionguashai (Panda Lake) Fall and the Zhengzhutan (Pearl Shoal) Fall. This latter fall lies at the downstream end of the Zhengshutan, which is the larger of two calcareous tufa shoals in the site.
The hydrology of the site is dominated by three valleys, Rize and Zechawa gullies flowing from the south and meeting at the centre of the site where they form the Shuzheng Gully.
Over most of the site the soils express their limestone parent rock, to a greater or lesser degree, while there is some variance in colour and texture. They are all neutral to slightly alkali. On the higher mountain slopes, the soils are poorly developed.
The rich flora and wide altitudinal range undoubtedly contribute to a highly diverse and important range of fauna. There are no records of detailed surveys or inventories, but 10 mammal's species are listed including notable species such as giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey, lesser panda, Szechwan takin, mainland serow, common goral and Thorold's deer.
There have been 141 species of bird recorded from the site. Some 13 of these are listed including Chinese monal, snowy-cheeked laughing thrush and a subspecies of Tengmalm's owl, which is endemic to the region.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC