Located in Hubei Province, in central-eastern China, the site consists of two components: Shennongding/Badong to the west and Laojunshan to the east. It protects the largest primary forests remaining in Central China and provides habitat for many rare animal species, such as the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Golden or Sichuan Snub-nosed Monkey, the Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard and the Asian Black Bear. Hubei Shennongjia is one of three centres of biodiversity in China. The site features prominently in the history of botanical research and was the object of international plant collecting expeditions in the 19th and 20th centuries. © UNESCO
2020 Conservation Outlook
A legitimate concern is the actual and potential increase of tourism, which is anticipated to increase significantly. Improvements to transport infrastructure have already taken place, including opening of the nearby Shennongjia Airport in 2014. This, and upgraded highway infrastructure, has the potential to dramatically increase visitation and will have significant impact. However, tourism planning, management and monitoring are in place to anticipate increasing demand, consideration to limits, including carrying capacity for some sites, as well as policies to actively mitigate negative impacts. Other threats relate to buffer zone developments and activities. Developments and encroaching land use such as for tea cultivation need ongoing monitoring. Attention should also be given to integrated conservation and community development initiatives in the buffer zones as a way to foster stronger community stewardship of the World Heritage property. The modification of the boundary to extend the property into the Wulipo Nature Reserve of Chongqing greatly strengthens the ensured connectivity with adjacent forests of the Daba Mountains as well as adding habitat and additional species. The Wulipo forests extend to lower altitudes than the original property and serve as important winter refuge for many birds and some mammals.
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Most complete altitudinal vegetation spectrum in the world
Remarkable example of ongoing ecological processes and evolution
Diversity of vascular plant species
Globally significant levels of species richness and endemism
(Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People‘s Republic of China, 2015; IUCN, 2016).
Local villagers benefit from direct assistance from the property management bureau but also other eco-compensation mechanisms not fully in place yet.
An overwhelming message is that World Heritage Site status offers very few easy socio-economic impacts – and that potential impacts need to be earned.
16 WORLD HERITAGE STATUS - Is there opportunity for economic gain? Research and analysis of the socio-economic impact potential of UNESCO World Heritage Site status Rebanks Consulting Ltd and Trends Business Research Ltd.
19 IUCN Evaluation Report – May 2016 IUCN Recommendation to World Heritage Committee: To inscribe the property under natural criteria.
(i) has a long history of hominid occupation and utilisation. Archaeologists have excavated stone implements made and used about 1.2 million years ago. In Hongping an ancient cave, known locally as Xiniudong, was a site of human activity about 100,000 years ago. Evidence indicates that the property, with its excellent ecological environment and rich biological resources, provided an ideal living environment for early human use and occupation.
(ii) features a rich human history of ancient legends as well as mysterious folk customs. There are many myths related to the area as well as numerous examples of a noteworthy intangible cultural heritage. The name Shenongjia reflects the legendary founding emperor of China who was the father of traditional Chinese medecine. The area is renowned for its wealth of medicinal plants.
(iii) is located on part of the ancient Shudao road network that linked the Yangtze and Yellow River Valleys in ancient times.
(iv) is legendary home to the "wild man" of Shennongjia - a yeti or Saskwatch-like animal leaving huge footprints.
Fresh water resources, including wetlands, are somewhat degraded. It is important that management planning policies and subsequent objectives and decisions are directed to rectify this. The full hydrological service value needs to be recognized and integrated into decision-making in order to meet the properties social, economic and environmental aspirations. All rivers of the property drain into the Yangtze (Changjiang) river contributing to the efficiency of huge hydro dams such as Three Gorges Dam and Gezhouba as well as serving the water needs of millions of people and huge areas of irrigation down to the mega-city of Shanghai. Better delivery of eco-compensation may be required to finance real improvements in hydrological restoration.
The grazing of the livestock, particularly within the buffer zones, needs to be carefully managed and, where necessary, management controls put in place.
|№||Organization||Brief description of Active Projects||Website|
|1||National Administration for Forests and Grasslands||National Programme for the establishment of 20 pioneer National Parks. This programme has been taken over from the State Commission for Reform and Development. Shennongjia was being planned for opening up as a pioneer national park. The first parks were planned to open in 2020 but ecological protection planning for the National Park has been suspended because the national policy has been changing so much, many programmes are delayed by covid-19 virus pandemic and there is no clear indication of how to adjust it or when such a park can be opened.||
|2||World Bank GEF||Much of the basic development of the property results from a former GEF project 1992-7 which provided much training and management planning.||
|3||UNDP GEF||Expansion and Improvement of Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the greater Shennongjia area, Hubei Province. The project was started in 2015 and is now closed.||
|4||National Administration of Forests and Grasslands||Dajiu Lake National Wetland Park of Hubei Province, Shennongjia Forestry District. This site is adjacent to Shennongjia on its northwest side and provides a complementary system of open wetlands, a lake and peat bogs. The site is being developed as a Ramsar Site. Some fauna exchange with Shennongjia WH property and the peat cores provide usedul data about previous climate changes.||
|5||Shennongjia Forestry Department||Under the urging of IUCN experts and WH Committee, a special project has been launched to develop wildlife crossings across the Route 209 as well as reforested patches in a wide corridor. Details of the structures are available in Chinese.|
State Forestry Administration, and Administration Bureau of Shennongjia National Nature Reserve. (2015).
Hubei Zhongguang Highway Survey and Design Co., Ltd. (2017). 神农架国家公园野生动物通道工程; 施工图设计文件 (Shennongjia National Park Wildlife Passage Project; Construction drawing design documents) (in Chinese).
IUCN (2015). Field Mission Report to IUCN World Heritage Panel. IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Process - Hubei Shennongjia.
IUCN Consultation. (2020). IUCN Confidential Consultation- Hubei Shennonjia, China
IUCN. (2016). World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Technical Evaluation, Hubei Shennongjia (China). In: IUCN World Heritage Evaluations 2016, IUCN Evaluations of nominations of natural and mixed properties to the World Heritage List. WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B2. [online] Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, pp.17-28. Available at: [Accessed 15 January 2017].
State Party of China (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People's Republic of China). (2015). Nomination of Hubei Shennonjia as a World Heritage Site. [online] State Party of China. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1509/documents/ [Accessed 23 February 2017].
State Party of China. (2020). Minor Modification to the Boundaries of Hubei Shennongjia, China.
World Heritage Committee. (2016). Decision 40 COM 8B.7. Hubei Shennongjia (China). In: Report of decisions of the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6786 [Accessed 25 November 2020].
Ying Junsheng. (2001). Species diversity and distribution pattern of seed plants in China. Chinese Biodiversity, 9(4), 393-398.