Biodiv Sci ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (5): 490-497.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2016268

Special Issue: 生物多样性与生态系统功能

• Special Feature: Shennongjia World Natural Heritage Site • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The outstanding universal value and conservation of the Shennongjia World Natural Heritage Site

Zongqiang Xie*(), Guozhen Shen, Youbing Zhou, Dayong Fan, Wenting Xu, Xianming Gao, Yanjun Du, Gaoming Xiong, Changming Zhao, Yan Zhu, Jiangshan Lai   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environment Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2016-09-20 Accepted:2017-01-20 Online:2017-05-20 Published:2017-06-06
  • Contact: Xie Zongqiang


World Natural Heritage site is recognized globally as the pinnacle of natural protected areas that are the cornerstones of biodiversity conservation. The World Natural Heritage of Shennongjia represents one of the worldwide biodiversity hotspots. But, until now, it has not been clear how outstanding the universal value of Shennongjia is worldwide, and this study presents one of the most compelling challenges to conservation efforts. Here, we compiled literature and conducted additional field surveys in the Shennongjia region to illustrate the outstanding universal value of Shennongjia World Natural Heritage Site using World Heritage criteria (ix) and (x), following the operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Results show that the heritage of Shennongjia offers an outstanding example of the ongoing ecological processes occurring in the development of intact subtropical mixed broad-leaved evergreen and deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere. This region presents a typical example of mountain altitudinal biological zones in the Oriental Deciduous Forest Biogeographical Province. Shennongjia is also a vital origin location for global temperate flora, and harbors the highest concentration of global temperate genera of trees. Moreover, the heritage of Shennongjia displays exceptional biodiversity and is a key habitat for numerous relic, rare, endangered and endemic species. The richness of deciduous woody species in Shennongjia is the highest in the world. Our study provides great insight into protecting, monitoring and managing the outstanding world heritage in the Northern Hemisphere.

Key words: mountain altitudinal zones, deciduous woody species, corridor, stepping stones, wildlife crossing, biological and ecological process, biodiversity and habitat