On July 7, the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) approved that two sites of China had been added to the UNESCO Global Geoparks at the 209th session in Paris. They are respectively Xiangxi Geopark in Hunan Province, south-central China, and Zhangye Geopark in Gansu Province, Northwest China. So far, there are a total of 41 Global Geoparks in China, accounting for about a quarter of the word’s total number 161.
During the 209th session of the Executive Board from June 29 to July 10 in Paris, there will be 15 sites joining the list of the UNESCO's Global Geoparks. In addition to China's two sites, Vietnam's Dak Nong Geopark and Indonesia's Toba Caldera have been recognized by UNESCO.
Situated in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Hunan Province, Xiangxi Geopark covers an area of 2,710 sq.km. (1,046 sq.mi.) and features undulating terrain and various geosites including not only the largest red carbonate rock stone forest on the planet but also a lot of canyons, rivers, waterfalls and caves. Also, around 160 Paleolithic and Neolithic cultural heritage sites have been well-preserved.
The geopark is composed of 7 scenic areas: Luota Platform, Furong Ancient Town, Guzhang Red Stone Forest, Lvdongshan Mountain, Aizhai Township, Tianxingshan Mountain and Eighteen-Cave Village. Among them, the Red Stone Forest, Furong Ancient Town, and Tujia and Miao ethnic villages are highlights.
Red Stone Forest
The stone forest is the only red carbonate rock forest in China, estimated to be formed during the Ordovician period about 480 million years ago because of the crust movement, erosion and dissolution. This beautiful geological wonder is rich in sedimentary rocks, karst caves and intense incisions, forming a typical karst landform.
Furong Ancient Town
This is an ancient town inhabited by generations of Tujia and Miao people. It is also called “the Town Hanging over Waterfall” as the largest waterfall in western Hunan, 60 meters (197 ft.) high and 40 meters (131 ft.) wide, falls off the cliff and passes through the town. Surrounded by water on three sides, the town also boasts the stilted houses built on the cliff near the waterfall and various Tujia folk customs.
Zhangye Geopark is one of the most famous geoparks in China for its gorgeous and colorful karst formations. Located in Sunan Yugur County, Zhangye, Gansu Province along the Silk Road, the park covers an area of 1,289.71 sq.km. (498 sq.mi.), situated between Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Inner Mongolian Plateau. The peaks and cliffs formed by the weathering and water erosion over the course of millennia are with multiple colors, thus dubbed as China’s Rainbow Mountains. Especially during the sunset and sunrise time, the best colored strata views will be offered.
China’s Top 10 Global Geoparks Should Not be Missed
Alxa Desert, Inner Mongolia