Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to more than 30% of the world's pandas which are classed as highly endangered, covers 924,500 ha with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda, a relict from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era. It is also the species' most important site for captive breeding. The sanctuaries are home to other globally endangered animals such as the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard. They are among the botanically richest sites of any region in the world outside the tropical rainforests, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora in over 1,000 genera.
Outstanding Universal Value
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains is principally renowned for its importance for the conservation of the giant panda, recognized as a “National Treasure” in China and as a flagship for global conservation efforts. The property is the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in China and thus the world. It is also the most important source of giant panda for establishing the captive breeding population of the species.
In addition to the giant panda, the property features a great number of endemic and threatened species of plants and animals, including other iconic mammal species such as the red panda, snow leopard and clouded leopard among the 109 species of mammals recorded (more than 20% of all Chinese mammals). The property is an important centre of endemism for some bird taxa with 365 bird species recorded, 300 of which breed locally. However the property is particularly important for flora, being one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world with some 5,000 – 6,000 species recorded. Many species are relicts, such as the dove tree, and there is significant diversity in groups such as magnolias, bamboos, rhododendrons, and orchids. The property is a major source and gene pool for hundreds of traditional medicinal plants, many now under threat.
Located in China’s southeast province of Sichuan in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains between the Chengdu Plateau and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the property includes seven nature reserves and eleven scenic parks in four prefectures or cities. It covers a total area of 924,500 ha surrounded by a buffer zone of 527,100 ha.
Criteria (x): The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary includes more than 30% of the world’s population of giant Panda and constitutes the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in the world. It is the most important source of giant panda for establishing the captive breeding population of the species. The property is also one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world or indeed anywhere outside of the tropical rain forests. Underlining the outstanding value is that it protects a wide variety of topography, geology, and plant and animal species. The property has exceptional value for biodiversity conservation and can demonstrate how ecosystem management systems can work across the borders of national and provincial protected areas.
The boundaries of the property have been designed to maximize the protection of giant panda habitat based on panda survey data carried out in 2003-2004, as well as the distribution of existing natural habitat. Fragmentation of habitat makes it essential that large intact areas of panda habitat are adequately protected and also that green corridors are established to enable movement of panda species and to avoid inbreeding. A number of towns, villages, agriculture land, major infrastructures and sites of high impact tourism have been excluded from the property, leaving enclaves.
Integrity issues include the need to enhance integrated monitoring and management capacity across all 18 management units of the property; establish and implement tourism management plans and tourism impact monitoring programmes; review existing infrastructure within the property with a view to better controlling impacts and, where possible, to remove infrastructure and allow habitat restoration with native species; ensure the "Sichuan World Heritage Management Committee" has sufficient powers, resources and authority to ensure it can effectively carry out its role in relation to management of the property; and to closely monitor the impact of the dam at Yaoji, and the associated relocation of people. Reviewing the possibilities for future addition of areas of high nature conservation value to the property, with priority on those areas which are particularly important for panda habitat and which are close to but outside the property (such as the Rongjin Nature Reserve which is as a critical link between the giant panda populations of Quionglaishan and Liangshan), is also recommended.
Protection and management requirements
The Property is wholly owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China. It is protected under a range of laws and regulations at national and provincial levels, including: Regulations on Wild Plant Protection of the People 's Republic of China (1997): Forest Law of the People 's Republic of China (1998); Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China (2002), Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Nature Reserves (2002); Cultural Heritage Protection Law of the People's Republic of China (2002); Law of the People's Republic of China on Wildlife Protection (2004); Scenic Areas Ordinance of the State Council of the People's Republic of China (2006); Regulations on the Management of Nature Reserves of Sichuan Province (2000); and Regulations on the Management of Scenic and Historic Areas of Sichuan Province (2010). Regulations on the Protection of World Heritage of Sichuan Province was issued in 2002, which is the legal basis for direct management of all the World Heritage properties in the province and is a very important measure for the protection of the property.
A management plan of 2002 aims to ensure that “The biodiversity, ecosystem and habitat of the giant panda will be effectively protected in the World Heritage site and social and economic development of the human population in the area will be harmonized with the natural environment guidelines for the area and for management of different types of use”. It provides a sound framework for site management and conservation.
The property has three levels of management: the Sichuan Provincial World Heritage Management Committee, the relevant Prefecture or City World Heritage Management Office, and the local site management agencies. Sichuan World Heritage Management Committee and Sichuan World Heritage Experts Committee have been formed under the Provincial Government to achieve coordination, and to improve authoritative and scientific management effectively.
The property is currently well-protected and in good condition. Following the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale, a restoration and reconstruction plan for the property has been compiled and implemented. Future management priorities include to progressively increase the level of staffing and resources within all reserves within the property; improve the coordination relationship between all reserves within the property; better support scientific research and education; and maximize the tourism benefit and minimize the tourism impact.