China Focus: Environment a priority of China's newest world heritage site
GUIYANG, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Photographer He Xiongzhou is a diehard fan of Mount Fanjingshan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, though he can detect few changes in the mountain through his photos.
He, 49, has taken over 100,000 pictures of the sacred Buddhist mountain since 2006. "When browsing through my works shot at the same places over the years, I found little difference," he said.
The mountain was inscribed on the World Heritage List on Monday at the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain's capital, Manama. It is the 13th site in China included on the list.
Fanjingshan, the highest peak of the Wuling Mountain range, at an altitude of 2,572 meters, stretches over an area of nearly 403 square km.
Fanjingshan's ecosystem preserves a large number of ancient plants, rare and endangered creatures, as well as unique species. It is home to 4,395 species of plants and 2,767 of animals.
Since Fanjingshan was made a national nature reserve in 1984, environmental protection has been a priority, with only necessary tourist facilities, including a cableway, being built. Less than a tenth of the reserve is open to tourists, in order to protect its environment.
"A survey conducted in September showed that all water samples taken at sources of nine rivers running through the reserve were of the best quality," said Qiu Yang, a senior engineer with the reserve.
In 2009, a hotel on the mountain was torn down. Since 2013 when the mountain was proposed by China as the country's only natural heritage nomination for the 2018 world heritage meeting, all construction has been banned in the area.
Villagers living at the foot of the mountain have also avoided damaging the mountain environment. Residents of Zhaisha Village, mainly inhabited by the Dong ethnic minority, made rules to prohibit the felling of trees, as well as fishing and littering in the river.
"The rules work well, because we all know a good environment is a blessing," said Xia Defa, a Zhaisha villager, referring to booming tourism.
"The inclusion of Mount Fanjingshan in the World Heritage List results from the international recognition of the natural value and the conservation work of the wonder, and reflects the progress that China has achieved in terms of protecting its biological diversity," said Song Xiaolu, head of the Chinese Guizhou delegation to the World Heritage Committee meeting.
"The mountain deserves the glory," He Xongzhou said when learning the news.
He is working on an album that will consist of 1,000 photos reflecting the mountain's scenery and culture.