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Riserva naturale di Jiuzhaigou

Uno degli indirizzi adatti per avere informazioni sui parchi nazionali e riserve della Cina è sicuramente il sito www.chinaenvironment.com dal quale abbiamo tratto la descrizione della riserva.
Situata nel Sichuan a circa trecento chilometri dalla capitale Chengdu e dichiarata riserva naturale nel 1978, essa appare come una delle aree protette più importanti della Cina.
Riportiamo di seguito la pagina e le fotografie del sito cinese consigliando i navigatori di visitarlo per scoprire altre riserve consigliate e pubblicazioni sull'ambiente.

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Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION Lies in Nanping County, northern Sichuan Province in the southern part of the Min Shan Range, approximately 330km from the Provincial capital of Chengdu. Includes the catchment areas of the Shizheng, Rize and Zechawa gullies which join Jiuzhaigou Valley.

DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT Until recently, Jiuzhaigou had remained undisturbed, largely due to its inaccessibility. Some protection was provided when at least part of the area was protected as a nature reserve in 1978. Extensive logging took place between 1972 and 1979 (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992) and concern about this prompted the proposal of the area as an area of scenic beauty and historic interest by the State Council of the People's Republic of China in 1982. An Administration Bureau for the site was established in 1984 and an overall plan for the site, with regulations, was drafted and approved in 1987. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992.

AREA 72,000ha, with a buffer zone of an additional 60,000ha. The area of Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve is given as 60,000ha (MoF/WWF, 1989). The site lies close to Wanglang Nature Reserve (27,700ha) to the south-east, and to Huanglong Scenic Area (70,000ha) to the south.

ALTITUDE Ranges from 2,140m (Luveihai or Reed Lake at the mouth of Jiuzhaigou) to 4,558m (Mount Ganzigonggai).

PHYSICAL FEATURES Lying on the edge of the diverging belt between the Qinghai-Tibet Plate and the Yangtze Plate, there are major faultlines running through the site: earthquakes are not uncommon and have been a major influence on the geological landscape. The rock strata are dominated by carbonate rocks, notably dolomite and tufa. Some sandstone and shales are also exposed. Of greater interest, geologically, are the high altitude karst land forms which have been strongly influenced by glacial, hydrological and tectonic activity.

jiuzh2-l.jpg (29896 bytes)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 rockfalls from avalanches. Processes of carbonate deposition are responsiblefor the cementation and stabilisation 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 to 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 which drops 78m in three steps, and the Zhengzhutan (Pearl Shoal) Fall, which drops 28m in a broad curtain of water, 310m wide. This latter fall lies at the downstream end of the Zhengshutan (Pearl Shoal) which is the larger of two calcareous tufa shoals in the site. These shoals are wide gently sloping areas of active calcareous deposition which are covered in a thin sheet of flowing water. Although spectacular, these shoals are not as extensive as those in Huanglonggou, in Huanglong Scenic Area.

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. This latter is then met by the Zaru Gully flowing north-westwards from the eastern boundary of the site, where they meet they form the Jiuzhaigou Valley, which itself is one of the sources of the Jialing River, part of the Yangtze River system. The great majority of the park perimeter follows the mountainous watersheds of these rivers.

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.

CLIMATE Conditions are cool temperate, being especially damp and cold on the higher mountain slopes and cool and dry in the valleys. Mean annual temperature is 7.2, with a mean January temperature of -1 and a mean July temperature of 17. Total annual rainfall is 661mm. Monthly totals are January, 15mm; February, 24mm; March, 36mm, April, 43mm; May, 87mm; June, 96mm; July, 104mm; August 82mm; September, 86mm; October 54mm; November, 26mm; and December, 18mm (A.Phillips, in litt., May 1996). Mean annual rainfall at nearby Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area is 758.9mm. The rainy season runs from May to October and accounts for 80% of the annual precipitation (MoC, 1991a, 1991b).

VEGETATION Detailed information on the vegetation of the site is not available, but it is similar to that in Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, which lies immediately to the south and which is described elsewhere.

CAS (1987) makes a preliminary estimate of 327 angiosperms and ten gymnosperms in Jiuzhaigou. This may be an underestimate, however, and MoC (1991a) states that there are 512 'categories' of seed plant. The latter lists 92 full species which are of interest because of their rarity, endemicity, or their ornamental or medicinal use. This list includes 15 species of rhododendron, found between 2,000 and 4,000m, and also two species of bamboo, Fragesia denudata and F. chinensis, which are important food for giant pandas. Also included are a number of species classified as threatened at the global level (WCMC, 1991); five endangered; nine vulnerable and five rare. Virgin forests cover nearly 30,000ha within the scenic area all of which is in the core area (MoC, 1991a).

jiuzhai2.gif (28709 bytes)FAUNA 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. MoC (1991a) lists ten mammals, including notable species as giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca (E), golden snub-nosed monkey Pygathrix roxellanae roxellanae (V), lesser panda Ailurus fulgens (V), Szechwan takin Budorcas taxicolor thibetana (K), mainland serow Capricornis sumatraensis (I), common goral Nemorhaedus goral, and Thorold's deer Cervus albirostris (V). Ji et al. (1990) state that Chinese water deer Hydropotes inermis (V) is also present.

It is reported that in 1996 the panda population was estimated at 17 individuals (A. Phillips, in litt., May 1996). MoF/WWF (1989) describes the population as being small and totally isolated. This population was formerly more extensive and linked to other populations to the north-east of the reserve. The proximity of the site to other large panda populations, notably in Baihe and Wanglang reserves and the proposed Wujiao Reserve, gives potential for maintaining or restoring the links between these populations and maintaining gene flow. This large interconnected series of reserves would also be of great value to the continued survival of golden snub-nosed monkey, which also requires extensive areas of undisturbed habitat (MacKinnon, 1986).

MoC (1991a) states that 141 species of bird have been recorded from the site. Some 13 of these are listed including Chinese monal Lophophorus lhuysii (E), snowy-cheeked laughingthrush Garrulax sukatschewi (K) and a subspecies of Tengmalm's owl Aegolius funereus beickianus, which is endemic to the region.

CULTURAL HERITAGE One of these lakes, Wolonghai or Dragon Lake, has a calcareous dyke running through it clearly visible below the water surface, which, in local folklore, has been compared to a dragon lying on the bottom.

Legends and more recent stories abound concerning the existence of monsters in various lakes, notably Changhai (Long Lake), Jianzhuhai (Arrow-Bamboo Lake) and Nuorilang Lakes. These stories are a further attraction to tourists and have received some scientific interest (CAS, 1987). The local Tibetan population maintain cultural traditions.

LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION Jiuzhaigou means literally 'nine-village-valley' because, it is said, there were once nine Tibetan villages along its length: six villages remain with a total resident human population of 800. The town of Jiuzhaigou lies outside the site, near the north-west border. Agricultural activities, including pasture and cultivation occur within the site, and some of the remaining Tibetan villages are sites of tourism development. The human population is about 1,000 (A. Phillips, in litt., May 1996) made up of 130 families. A small Buddhist monastery is located in the Zaru Valley.

VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES The site has been officially open to tourists since January 1984. Since then, tourist numbers (including those from overseas) have been increasing annually, from 5,000 in 1984 to 170,000 in 1991, and 160,000 in 1995, of whom 3,000 are foreigners. Previous estimates were for numbers to reach 200,000 in 1992 and 500,000 by the year 2000 (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992). Recent figures estimate visitor numbers to be at 200,000 (Dingwall, 1997). There is tourist accommodation available within the area, some of it operated by the Administrative Bureau in former forestry hostels. To encourage tourism, some 55.5km of 'touring highways' have been built, together with a few short lengths of raised plank paths and 16 pavilions (small shelters).

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES Nearly 100 papers have been published covering geology, geomorphology, hydrology, meteorology, biology and environmental protection in Jiuzhaigou MoC (1991a). Some work on panda has also been undertaken over the wider region (MoF/WWF, 1989). There are no permanent scientific facilities, or specialist staff, within the site.

CONSERVATION VALUE The geology and geomorphology of the region is undoubtedly of great interest, although perhaps not unique. Of particular note are the features resulting from glaciation, the folds and faults which have resulted from tectonic activity and the high altitude karst features including calcareous tufa shoals, waterfalls and stepped lakes. Aesthetically, the site presents an almost unique spectacle, with its combined attraction of high mountains, forests, lakes, stepped lakes, waterfalls and calcareous shoals. The rich variety of colours is also notable, many of the lakes having clear blue, turquoise or green waters, while in autumn many of the leaves turn to a range of rich colours. The inclusion of a number of tibetan villages in the buffer zone adds to the cultural interest of the area.

The site supports a high diversity of plant and animal species, including a number of threatened species.

CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT The Sichuan Provincial Commission for Construction has overall responsibility for the protection and administration of the site. On-the-ground administration is provided by the Administrative Bureau of Jiuzhaigou, which is subdivided into a number of departments including a Protection Section, Construction Section and a police substation.

In addition to national legislation, there are a number of relevant local regulations and government decrees. The management plan is based around these laws and contains specific regulations and proposals: tree-felling, forest clearance and activities causing pollution are prohibited; and the needs of the local Tibetan population are to be taken into full consideration. A management goal (1992) is to progressively transfer local residents from agriculture to scenic area protection employment. Fire protection and anti-pollution measures are given; tree-planting is encouraged; and an overall plan for construction in the site has been drawn up. In 1984, some 31 mud and rock flows and landslides in the area had been examined: the management plan suggests that these should be stabilised, 13 have apparently already been brought under effective control, with concrete protection works in place in some areas. The plan also stresses the training of management staff and workers (MoC, 1991a; CAS, 1987). Another management objective is to encourage regeneration of the heavily logged Zechawa Gully (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992).

Beginning in 1996, a five year plan will be implemented which will reduce the extent of agricultural land in the buffer zone, so that the area farmed is only that required to meet local needs: surplus farmland will be forested with native tree species. Within the buffer zone of the reserve area, hotel development is strictly limited to a maximum of 15 beds. The Administration Bureau controls such development by permit, and sets a ceiling on the profit that can be made from hotel provision (A. Phillips, in litt., May 1996). A comprehensive visitor management plan is currently being developed, highlighting the need for adequate planning, regulations, environmental impact assessment, visitor education and staff training (Dingwall, 1997).

Feasibility studies are underway (1992) into the building of an airfield and heliport in Songpan County near the Red Army Monument and the junction of the roads to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992).

Under a cooperation agreement between the United States National Park Service (USNPS) Western Regional Office and Sichuan Province, the site was visited, along with Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, for approximately one week by USNPS officers (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992).

MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS Potential problems include forest clearance for agriculture and firewood, forest fires and pollution. As the numbers of tourists increase, the threats of pollution, erosion, development of infrastructural facilities and the disturbance of rare species will increase. The management plan does include provisions to cater for most of these problems. However, whilst the construction of new large hotels just outside the buffer zone, with an estimated 1996 capacity of 2,000 beds, has brought additional income to the Tibetan communities, they are visually intrusive. As visitor numbers grow, and especially as road access from Chengdu is improved, and airport access within one hour's driving from the site, it will become increasingly necessary to impose strict limits upon the use of the woods in the reserve. A 'park and ride' scheme would be feasible and is reported (1996) as being under consideration (A. Phillips, in litt., May 1996).

For some of the mammal species, notably giant panda and golden snub-nosed monkey, the site is not extensive enough without being connected to other reserves in the region, especially given the human population in the area and the increasing numbers of tourists.

In terms of protecting the giant panda population, MoF/WWF (1989) contains a number of recommended actions. It states that the panda population was formerly more extensive and linked up the two valleys of Shabagou and Zarugou to the north-east of the reserve and hence to the other populations in Nanping and Pingwu counties. This connection has been cut by local people clearing the forest, while the population within the site has fallen due to heavy logging, continued human impact and the flowering of the bamboo in the 1970s. The report calls for improved management of the reserve, setting a fixed quota for tourist numbers in accordance with the carrying capacity of the habitat type and calls for the resettlement of villages out of the reserve when conditions allow. This latter point is likely to be especially controversial as the Tibetan villages are considered to be one of the attractions of the site. This report also calls for the strict protection of the Jiuzhaigou-Baihe-Wujiao 'panda corridor', forbidding all logging, farming and human activities. This is considered to be essential to allow gene flow between otherwise isolated panda populations (MoF/WWF, 1989).

The Chengdu Institute of Geography has been working on this and has implanted a series of engineering and biological reserves to 'protect the landscape' CAS (1987). Some of these appear to be fairly major engineering projects, and it is unclear whether any environmental impact assessment was made before these were undertaken.

STAFF 200 full-time, 100 part-time (Thorsell and Lucas, in litt., 1992).

BUDGET Funding comes from central and local governments. Annual budget is approximately Yen 370,000 (undated information).


Administrative Bureau of Jiuzhaigou, Jiuzhaigou Town, Nanping County, Sichuan Province

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