Home » Xinjiang Travel Guide » Xinjiang Travel Guide » World Heritages in Xinjiang » Tianshan in Xinjiang

World Natural Heritage: Tianshan in Xinjiang

World Natural Heritage: Tianshan in Xinjiang

Tianshan in Xinjiang (2014)

Tianshan in Xinjiang is composed of four areas, including Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda, covering an area of 5759 square kilometers. The UNESCO listed areas are the hills, basins and alluvial fans of Tianshan, which only account for 1% of the total area. However, the listed areas also include the North Tianshan, the Central Tianshan and the South Tianshan as well as the Tomur National Nature Reserve, the West Tianshan Mountain National Nature Reserve and the Bayinbuluke National Nature Reserve, which are thought to be the very best part of Tianshan. Also, it includes Bogda International Man and Biosphere Reserve Network, Tianchi National Scenic Area and Nature Reserve and Har Jun Scenic Area, all of which have sound regulatory systems and preservation infrastructures.

1. Tomur

Located at the western region of Tianshan, Tomur, has an altitude ranging from 1,450 meters at its lowest to 7,443 meters at its highest, with a height difference of 5,993 meters. The UNESCO nominated areas have an area of 344,828 hectares and the alluvial fans 280,120 hectares, including the whole area of Tomur National Nature Reserve (237,637 hectares). From its north to its south are mountains such as Tomur, Khan Tengri and Halazhouliha. This is the area with the largest amount of rainfall in Tianshan, which helps nourish its large-scale glaciers. According to the latest statistics, there are over 670 glaciers in Tomur-Bogda region, with an area of 2,706 kilometers squared and storing 473 cubic kilometers’ ice. It is known as the third largest glacier-concentrated area in the world, next to Mount Qomolangma and Mount Godwin Austin. The ancient glacier moraines are complete and well preserved there. The canyons in central Tianshan are well developed, and red-layer landforms are widely distributed on the southern slope, It is home to 1,218 vascular plants species, but its plant species are vastly diverse. It is a part of the north temperate zone, the old world’s temperate zone, and Asian temperate zone. It is the habitat of 136 vertebrate species, among which birds and mammals constitute the majority. It is also a concentrated area of rare and endangered snow leopards.

2. Kalajun-Kuerdening

Kalajun-Kuerdening consists of two regions, both of which are located in the basin and valley area of central Tianshan. The nominated area of Kalajun is part of the Kalajun Basin under the jurisdiction of Tekes County, with an altitude ranging from 910 to 1,820 meters, with a height difference of 2,090 meters. As a regional-level (provincial-level) scenic area, its area is 47,768 hectares and alluvial fans 35,296 hectares. The Kuerdening in Qiapuke Valley of the northern slope of Mount Nalati has an altitude ranging from 1,600 to 3,830 meters with a height difference of 2,230 meters. This area includes the West Tianshan National Nature Reserve that has an area of 31,217 hectares. The Kuerdening area is 35,139 hectares and the buffer area is 82,539 hectares. The forests and grasses in this area are in good conditions and the forests are famous throughout China. This area is home to 1,594 vascular plant species, considered to be biologically and vegetatively diverse. It has 39 biomes, featuring wild fruit woods and mountain perpendicular belt of deciduous broad-leaved forests. There are 223 vertebrate species, including 21 fish species, 5 amphibian species, 15 reptile species, 123 bird species and 59 mammal species. The bird clusters are similar to the large-scale animal migration in Eastern Africa. The abundant forest and grass resources contribute to its tourist attracts among all areas in Tianshan, also known for its biodiversity in Tianshan.

3. Bayinbukuke

The area of Bayinbukuke is located in the swamp of Youerdosi Basin at central Tianshan with an altitude ranging from 2,390 to 2,600 meters, a height difference of 210 meters. It is a high-altitude basin with Kaidu River flowing from west to east. The area is 109,448 hectares and the buffer area is 80,090 hectares, including the Bayinbukuke Nature Reserve that has an area of 148,689 hectares. The swan is the major animal under state protection there, so it is often referred to as a swan nature reserve with Kaidu River occupying most of it. The water resources there help nourish the swamp-based Bayinbukuke Grassland, the second largest grassland in China. This grassland is a type of subalpine plateau due to its high altitude. The area with alpine swamp meadows has a lack of trees. It is home to 704 vascular plant species and 145 vertebrate species, including 5 fish species, 2 amphibian species, 119 bird species and 19 mammal species. The large number of bird species contribute to its fame as the paradise for birds. In particular, there are over 7,000 swans, which influences its reputation as an area with the largest number of swans in the world. The swans are the most spectacular subalpine grassland landscape there. The alpine wetland ecosystem, rivers, wild fauna and herds as well as the unique local lifestyle of the Mongolian people combine to create an enticing tourist experience.

4. Bogda

Bogda is situated in the eastern West Tianshan with an altitude ranging from 13,80 meters at the lowest point to 5,445 meters at the top of Bogda Peak, a height difference of 4,065 meters. The area is 38,739 hectares and the buffer area is 41,547 hectares, including Bogda International Man and Biosphere Reserve Network and Tianchi National Scenic Area and Nature Reserve that has an area of 38,069 hectares. In the Bogda area, there are over 113 modern glaciers, covering an area of 102.42 square kilometers with a storage of 1.84 billion cubic meters’ ice, known as the origin of many smaller rivers. The landforms there have striking height differences, obvious terraced-structure, outstanding weather conditions and fractured formations. The vegetations here bear traces of the typical temperate properties. It is home to 1134 vascular plants species, known to be rich in a variety of endemic species. There are 181 vertebrate species, including 2 fish species, 1 amphibian species, 2 reptile species, 144 bird species, 32 mammal species, and 608 insect species. Glaciers are said to be well developed there with a long history. The glaciers, lakes and wetlands combine to create a gorgeous waterscape that will never fail to attract any visitors. Among all four nominated areas in Tianshan, this area is known to bear the largest trace of human activity which some argue as the obstacle of preservation.