China’s Mount Huangshan was the first World Heritage site to achieve the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas Standard, based on conservation excellence recognised in the IUCN World Heritage Outlook.
The site, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1990, is assessed as 'good' by the IUCN Outlook, which assesses all natural World Heritage areas – highlighting for the first time successful conservation examples among nature’s most iconic places.
The Conservation Outlook Assessment of Mount Huangshan shows that the site successfully manages to balance cultural and economic needs with strong nature protection. According to the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, sites with a good conservation outlook are likely to be well conserved over time, provided they maintain their current performance.
Based on this strong conservation outlook, Mount Huangshan was selected as a model for Chinese protected areas and was put forward as a candidate for the new IUCN Green List of Protected Areas (GLPA) – a new global standard for excellence in protected area governance and management that delivers conservation impact.
Mount Huangshan is one of China’s most significant landmarks. Its stunningly dramatic, mystical scenery has inspired spirituality and awe in poets, writers, painters and millions of visitors, every year. The shrouded landscape and its numerous grotesquely shaped rocks and ancient, gnarled trees inspired the influential Shanshui (“Mountain and Water”) school of landscape painting, providing a fundamental representation of the oriental landscape in the world’s imagination and art.
The mountain has globally unique floral species, such as the Huangshan pine (Pinus hwangshanensis), and is one of the most important natural sites in China, and globally, for biodiversity.
The IUCN Green List award process was rigorous. It involved independent review of the Chinese expert panel’s judgement on the nomination. The IUCN Green List Standard includes pillars on design and delivery to achieve the areas’ conservation and related objectives, equitable governance, and effective management, all of which must lead to demonstrated conservation success, over time. Mount Huangshan successfully met all criteria.
The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is a useful baseline and summary of available evidence and information. It is hoped that other World Heritage sites globally, assessed with a good conservation outlook, can similarly attain the IUCN Green List Standard.
Mount Huangshan’s Green List achievement validates the Outlook result and rewards the diligent commitment by Chinese authorities, conservation groups and tour operators in helping the Park management to maintain the outstanding values of the mountain, while balancing social and economic needs of the surrounding inhabitants.