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Qinghai Hoh Xil - wilderness in the heights

Following the advice of IUCN, the official advisory body on natural World Heritage, China’s Qinghai Hoh Xil has been inscribed on the World heritage List for its spectacular landscapes and unique biodiversity, including threatened species.

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

Located within the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – the largest, highest and youngest plateau in the world – Qinghai Hoh Xil covers a massive area of over 3.7 million hectares, surrounded by a 2.3 million ha buffer zone.
 

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

The complete life cycle of the Tibetan antelope can be seen in Qinghai Hoh Xil. Females congregate to the site after a long migration and give birth to some 30,000 calves.
 

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

Qinghai Hoh Xil provides crucial habitat for the Tibetan wild yak, with up to 50% of the world’s species’ population living in the site.
 

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

Qinghai Hoh Xil is sometimes referred to as the world’s “third pole”, due to its frigid climatic extremes.  The plateau’s many glaciers, rivers, streams and lakes feed one of the most important sources of freshwater on the planet. Pictured here, Bukadavan Glacier.
 

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

The water that melts from the site’s glaciers forms a huge wetland system made up of numerous lakes and rivers. The site is where the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest river, takes its source.
 

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China © IUCN Chimed Ochir Bazarsad 850

The site’s alpine mountains and steppe systems extend to elevations of 4,500 meters above sea level. The scale of Qinghai Hoh Xil challenges the human dimension.

Qinghai Hoh Xil, China - local people © Peter Shadie

The traditional use of the site by nomadic herders has co-existed with nature for millenia. The World Heritage listing unequivocally supports the rights of the Tibetan pastoralists in the area.

 

 

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