China Danxia
China, Inscribed in  2010
Criteria : vii, viii

China Danxia

Learn more about the state of conservation of this natural World Heritage site by scrolling down to read assessment summaries.More details can be found by navigating to the "Full references" tab, where conservation issues, benefits and projects are cited alongside values, threats, and protection and management.Sources of information are listed under references.

Finalised on 10 Jun 2014
Conservation Outlook

Good

The conservation outlook for the property is generally good and of low concern. The current state of the values of the property and the trend are respectively satisfactory and stable. The serial nature of the property, with its six widely separated component parts, is complex but the authorities must be commended on the degree to which they have provided a uniformly consistent legal and institutional framework for protection and management. Existing staff and other management resources appear to be adequate in coping with current factors affecting the property and low levels of threat. Protection of the property is assisted by its remoteness from development and the robust character of the geological landscape. There is a need to ensure protection of the natural forest vegetation and biodiversity, which contribute significantly to the scenic and aesthetic qualities and to the on-going land forming processes. There is a need to be vigilant in the face of an inevitable increase in visitor numbers and tourism development, and astute management intervention will be required to avoid any undesirable impacts of mass tourism. Among the most important challenges for the authorities is to increase the level of international understanding of the Danxia geological landscape, through increased collaborative research and scientific publication and wider promotion campaigns.

Values

Low Concern Trend: Stable
Current state and Trend of values
Low Concern

The current state of the outstanding scenic and aesthetic and geological values of the property is satisfactory and the trend is stable. Overall, the situation can be assessed as of low concern. Remoteness of the property from urban and industrial development and the inherently robust character of the geological landscape combine to provide for a strong degree of integrity for the serial property despite its geographical discontinuity and complexity. All six sites in the property have strong legal protection and active management sufficient to cope with existing and foreseen environmental and human pressures. There is a need for vigilance in the face of the real prospect of substantially increased tourism development. Management must also give due attention to protection of the natural forest habitats that add significantly to the overall visual and aesthetic values of the property and are vital to maintain the on-going natural geomorphological processes. Protection of the geological values of the property would be enhanced through greater international scientific exposure of the Danxia formation and landscapes, as well as development of geological monitoring indicators.

Threats

Low Threat
Overall Threats
Low Threat

Overall the threats to the property are at a low to very low level, though in some cases it is difficult to judge because of limited available information. It appears that the more notable threats are from pressure of township and associated infrastructure development and from the growth of visitor numbers and tourism. Threats are generally higher in the buffer zone than inside the property. Existing management capacity appears to be sufficient to respond adequately to current threats.

Protection and Management

Effective
Overall Protection and management
Effective

Overall, the protection and management of the property can be assessed as mostly effective and there are no significant concerns. This is an extremely complex serial property comprising six components in six provinces scattered across some 1700 km of Southeast China. The effort made to provide uniformly effective legal, institutional and management mechanisms for protection of the Outstanding Universal Value throughout the property is highly commendable. On-going protection effort should give emphasis to managing the growing pressure from tourism, and to the need to give greater international scientific exposure to China Danxia though collaborative research and wider publication.

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Assessment Information
Finalised on 10 Jun 2014

Values

The current state of the outstanding scenic and aesthetic and geological values of the property is satisfactory and the trend is stable. Overall, the situation can be assessed as of low concern. Remoteness of the property from urban and industrial development and the inherently robust character of the geological landscape combine to provide for a strong degree of integrity for the serial property despite its geographical discontinuity and complexity. All six sites in the property have strong legal protection and active management sufficient to cope with existing and foreseen environmental and human pressures. There is a need for vigilance in the face of the real prospect of substantially increased tourism development. Management must also give due attention to protection of the natural forest habitats that add significantly to the overall visual and aesthetic values of the property and are vital to maintain the on-going natural geomorphological processes. Protection of the geological values of the property would be enhanced through greater international scientific exposure of the Danxia formation and landscapes, as well as development of geological monitoring indicators.

Low Concern

World Heritage Values
Low Concern Trend: Stable

A landscape formed in continental sedimentary rocks with a great variety of distinctive landforms
Low Concern Stable

The term "Danxia" describes the physical landscape developed from uplifted continental (terrestrial) reddish conglomerate and sandstone, also known as "red-beds," in a warm, humid monsoon climate. China Danxia is the world’s most outstanding example of this landscape. Each of the six component parts of this serial property displays landforms characteristic of its stage in the erosion history, and collectively they illustrate the full extent of geomorphic evolution of the Danxia formation in southeastern China (SoOUV, 2010).

An exceptionally beautiful landscape
Low Concern Stable

China Danxia is an impressive landscape of great natural beauty. Red conglomerate and sandstone have been shaped into spectacular peaks, pillars, cliffs and imposing gorges, together with winding rivers and majestic waterfalls, within a sub-tropical forest setting (SoOUV, 2010).

Other Biodiversity values
Low Concern Trend: NA

Intact sub-tropical forest remnants protecting significant biodiversity values.
NA Trend: NA

Threats

Overall the threats to the property are at a low to very low level, though in some cases it is difficult to judge because of limited available information. It appears that the more notable threats are from pressure of township and associated infrastructure development and from the growth of visitor numbers and tourism. Threats are generally higher in the buffer zone than inside the property. Existing management capacity appears to be sufficient to respond adequately to current threats.

Low Threat

Current Threats
Low Threat

Overall the threats to the property are at a low to very low level, though in some cases it is difficult to judge because of limited available information. It appears that the more notable threats are from pressure of township and associated infrastructure development and from the growth of visitor numbers and tourism. Threats are generally higher in the buffer zone than inside the property. Existing management capacity appears to be sufficient to respond adequately to current threats.

Housing/ Urban Areas
Low Threat

There are approx. 34,000 permanent residents inside the property and approx. 100,000 in the buffer zone. Villages and small towns are common, but the development pressure appears to be mainly in the buffer zone (People’s Republic of China, 2008a).

Livestock Farming / Grazing
Very Low Threat

Subsistence living and resource use occur at most sites but with variable degrees of threat (People’s Republic of China 2008a).

Poaching
Very Low Threat

Subsistence living and resource use occur at most sites but with variable degrees of threat (People’s Republic of China 2008a).

Logging/ Wood Harvesting
Very Low Threat

Subsistence living and resource use occur at most sites but with variable degrees of threat (People’s Republic of China 2008a).

Fishing / Harvesting Aquatic Resources
Very Low Threat

Subsistence living and resource use occur at most sites but with variable degrees of threat (People’s Republic of China 2008a).

Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
Data Deficient

Alien pest species are reported but specifics are lacking. Low level quarantine measures are applied inside the property (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Fire/ Fire Suppression
Low Threat

Wildfires occur during the dry season and at times of drought. Early-warning, preparedness and prevention systems are in place (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Water Pollution
Data Deficient

Pollution is listed among the factors affecting the property but there are no specifics on sources or levels of pollution. Waste production in upstream catchments is noted as a cause. Air pollution is a national problem but is not generated in-situ (People’s Republic of China, 2008a).

Tourism/ Recreation Areas
Low Threat

There has been a modest increase in annual tourist numbers from 130,000 (2001) to 360,000 (2007) with steady growth continuing. Current numbers are well below the physical and social carrying capacity, though some congestion occurs at the most popular scenic spots in holiday seasons. Management capacity is sufficient to cope with current tourism pressures, but on-going vigilance is required (IUCN, 2010; People’s Republic of China, 2008a).

Potential Threats
Low Concern

The mountainous terrain is susceptible to geological and weather event, such as the occurrence of landslide and rockfall and stream flooding. The level of threat is difficult to determine from existing information.

Avalanches/ Landslides
Data Deficient

The mountainous terrain is susceptible to the occurrence of landslide and rockfall and stream flooding. The level of threat is difficult to determine from existing information. There has been some localised management intervention (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Protection and management

Overall, the protection and management of the property can be assessed as mostly effective and there are no significant concerns. This is an extremely complex serial property comprising six components in six provinces scattered across some 1700 km of Southeast China. The effort made to provide uniformly effective legal, institutional and management mechanisms for protection of the Outstanding Universal Value throughout the property is highly commendable. On-going protection effort should give emphasis to managing the growing pressure from tourism, and to the need to give greater international scientific exposure to China Danxia though collaborative research and wider publication.

Effective

Protection and management

Research
Effective

There is a long history of national research in Danxia geology and active research programs are in place or planned. However, wider scientific awareness and understanding of the Danxia phenomena suffers from a lack of published research in the international English language scientific literature. The WH Committee has urged the State Party to improve this situation and a good beginning has been made to comply (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 34COM.8B.1; Xiao Shizen et al., 2009). Danxia landform development and evolution has been mostly explained by geographical points of view, it is necessary to carry out geological investigation to understand the Danxia landform evolution.

Monitoring
Effective

Baseline condition assessment and monitoring of change for natural values and for species have been established (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b; UNEP/WCMC, 2012).

Tourism and visitation management
Some Concern

Tourism management is guided by management plans. Some interpretation programs and methods could benefit from up-grading (People’s Republic of China, 2008b).

Education and interpretation programs
Effective

Programs are in place but could be more actively implemented and up-graded (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Sustainable use
Data Deficient

Subsistence lifestyles and uses of land and resources are supported in and around the property (People’s Republic of China, 2008a).

Staff training and development
Effective

There are enough qualified staff employed at each of the sites in the property, and training opportunities are available (IUCN, 2010; People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Sustainable finance
Data Deficient

.

Boundaries
Effective

Boundaries of the property and the buffer zones for each of the component parts are well demarcated and logical with respect to ensuring integrity (IUCN, 2010; People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Implementation of Committee decisions and recommendations
Some Concern

At the time of inscription, the WH Committee requested the State Party to ensure the effective long-term management and protection of the property and meet integrity requirements; to focus on the protection and effective management of the important biodiversity values; to support the organization of international meetings and to continue scientific research regarding the Danxia Landform; and to make available in translation key scientific studies on the topic of the China Danxia and to actively assist the further development of international scientific knowledge of the China Danxia phenomena and red-beds sandstone geomorphology more generally. The 1st International Symposium on Danxia Landform was convened in 2009, supported by the IUGS and IAG and several scientific institutions in China, intended to strengthen research and scientific collaboration on Danxia and similar landforms throughout the world (34COM.8B.1; Xiao Shizen et al., 2009).

Management effectiveness
Some Concern

Generally, there appear to be adequate long-term legislative, regulatory, institutional and traditional protection and management mechanisms for safeguarding the inscribed values of the property. However, the WH Committee has requested that there also be a greater focus on protection of biodiversity values (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b; 34COM.8B.1).

Management system (for transboundary/serial properties, integrated management system should also be described/evaluated)
Effective

A management plan exists for each of the sites in the serial property and there is an integrated management plan for the property as a whole (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b).

Integration into regional and national planning systems (including sea/landscape connectivity)
Data Deficient

.

Legal framework
Effective

All land in the property is State-owned. Protection status varies from site to site but includes national nature reserve, national forest and geopark. The property has protection under the relative laws and regulations of national, provincial and local governments (People’s Republic of China, 2008a; 2008b; UNEP/WCMC, 2012).

Relationships with local people (including stakeholder relationships, participatory management, rights, and access to benefits and equity)
Effective

People from the local communities are involved in management and have a good understanding of the World Heritage status (People’s Republic of China, 2008a).

Overall assessment of protection and management

Assessment of the effectiveness of protection and management in addressing threats outside the site
Effective

On available evidence, there appears to be a relatively seamless transition between management inside and outside the property. All key stakeholders in the surrounding communities support the World Heritage status of the property.

Overall assessment of protection and management
Effective

Overall, the protection and management of the property can be assessed as mostly effective and there are no significant concerns. This is an extremely complex serial property comprising six components in six provinces scattered across some 1700 km of Southeast China. The effort made to provide uniformly effective legal, institutional and management mechanisms for protection of the Outstanding Universal Value throughout the property is highly commendable. On-going protection effort should give emphasis to managing the growing pressure from tourism, and to the need to give greater international scientific exposure to China Danxia though collaborative research and wider publication.

Best Practice Examples

Additional Information

Key Conservation Issues

Issues

Increased international understanding of the Danxia geological formation and landscape.
National

Danxia geology is not well known or understood outside China because of the lack of exposure in the international English language scientific literature. There is a need for more international collaborative research and publication.

Growth in visitor numbers and tourism development.
Local

Visitor numbers are currently at levels below the carrying capacity of the property and the current management capacity. Numbers will inevitably grow in the near future, possibly rapidly, which could potentially introduce some of the undesirable elements of mass tourism.

Benefits

Knowledge

Danxia geology is nationally renowned in China based on long-established research. China has a major role to play in making this information available to the wider international scientific community. A beginning was made with the convening of the 1st international Symposium on Danxia Landform in 2009.

Environmental Services

The protection of the property is highly significant for control of soil erosion, land stability, forest conservation and the maintenance of water quality.

Health and recreation

Commercial tourism operations are growing modestly but steadily throughout the property and the associated economic opportunities are of great benefit to residents both in the property and the buffer zone. It is important that the level of development is maintained within the physical and social carrying capacity of the property and that the excesses of mass tourism are avoided.

Food

Subsistence activities such as hunting, farming, fishing and firewood collection are permitted by regulation, and traditional customs and religious beliefs are respected and maintained. There is some threat from modernization.

Nature conservation values

Many people from the local communities in and around the property are employed for administrative and management duties and as guides, from which they derive significant cash income which contributes to up-grading their social and economic well-being.

Projects

Active Conservation Projects

N0 Organization/ individuals Brief description of Active Projects Contact Details
1 Data deficient Data deficient

Compilation of potential project needs

N.O0 Organization/ individuals Brief description of Active Projects Contact Details
1 Local site management and national authorities. Research and investigation of tourism management planning and intervention approaches, especially in anticipation of increased tourism development. .
2 Local and national scientists Combined research projects with scientists and collaboration with scientific organizations outside China, and publication of research results in the international English language scientific literature. .
Rn0 References
1 34COM.8B.1 Danxia Inscription.
2 Xiao Shizen et al. 2009. Minutes of the 1st International Symposium on Danxia Landform, Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province, China, 26-18 May 2009.
3 UNEP/WCMC 2012. Datasheet of China Danxia, China.
4 People’s Republic of China 2008b. China Danxia Management Plan. Appendix 2 of nomination file. 96pp.
5 People’s Republic of China 2008a. China Danxia nomination text. 281 pp.
6 IUCN 2010. Technical evaluation of World Heritage nomination of China Danxia, China. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 17pp.

Site Description

China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). The inscribed site comprises six areas found in the sub-tropical zone of south-west China. They are characterized by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms, including dramatic natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys and waterfalls. These rugged landscapes have helped to conserve sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests, and host many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened.

ⓒ UNESCO