RI 04 CHINA
Yunnan - Southern Gaoligongshan
The Gaoligong Region in southwestern China, bordering Myanmar (Burma), is a unique blend of biological realms and biogeographic provinces. These mountains provide forests continuation from east to west, and a pathway for flora and fauna from the Himalayas, the Palearctic, and the tropical elements of the Oriental realm of southeastern Asia. Its altitude variation allows forests transitions and a center for diversity and endemism.
The area has been a crossroads for culture and history. River valleys have been farmed since ancient times. The Silk Road has been a trade, commerce and culture connection between central China and its southern neighbors. Approximately 450 families were still living here at the time of the inventory, and their villages carry the cultural diversity and history of the region.
The region became a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in October 2000, and was designated a National Nature Reserve by the State Council of China. Despite these designations, the forest and its diversity still face intense pressures. The Chinese Government has selected a portion of the reserve for ecotourism development, which should be carefully planned to protect the biological riches and benefit its human inhabitants directly.
Photo by H. Bradley Shaffer