A report from and about Qinling mountains

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Land of the Giant Panda, the Qinling Mountains lie in the eastern province of Shaanxi and form a natural dividing line between north and south China.

Li Ning of WWF China laughs, “Qinling Mountains are a very important landmark in China. In south China, they don’t have central heating in the winter whereas in the north, they do - so just by this line, the people in the south have to suffer the cold!”

Outstanding Biodiversity
Some of the peaks of Qinling Mountains are higher than 3,000m so they act as a barrier to cold, dry air coming in from the north.

On the broad southern slopes, on the other hand, warm rains encourage luxuriant growth and therefore an amazing variety of plants and animals, which are found only in China and nowhere else in the world.

The Chinese Yew and Qinling Fir trees tower above a fantastic array of rhododendrons and between the Ginkgos and the various different types of bamboo live the giant pandas.

Cradle of Chinese Civilization
As well as being fantastically rich in natural resources, Qinling Mountains have a long human history.

A short distance to the north-east of Qinling Mountains lies Xi’an, the capital city of the province of Shaanxi. Xi’an is one of the 6 ancient Chinese capitals and was the starting point of the world-famous Silk Road.

It’s also the place to go when you want to visit what has been called the “eighth wonder of the world”, the Terracotta Warriors of the Qin dynasty. Says Li Ning “Qinling literally means ‘mountain of the kingdom of Qing’ and you know, Qing was the kingdom that united China in 221BC. So it is surely the cradle of Chinese civilization.”

Pandas and People
Because people have been living in the region for thousands of years, the natural mountain forests of Qinling have become smaller as people search for new agricultural land.

Over time, people have cut down the lowland forests to create farmland and fuel-wood. Now people are moving yet further up the slopes which means that the forests where the pandas live are becoming smaller and more isolated from one another.

Says Li Ning, “There are a lot of towns in the Qinling region because people have been living there for thousands of years. Some areas still have their natural beauty but many are highly populated so you cannot really separate town and mountain areas.”
 / ©: naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
 

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