In Anthony Sun's recently added (and useful) reviews he comments "However my guide when I visited ShangriLa from Lijiang in October of 2008, confirmed that Tiger Leaping Gorge is part of Haba Snow Mountain....and then in ShangriLa I visited the Potatso National Park and found that Bita Lake is located in the park. Both Tiger Leaping Gorge and Potatso Park are very popular local tourist sites and should be the destination for anyone who wants to check this WHS off their list."
But IS Tiger Leaping Gorge part of the inscribed WHS??? The IUCN evaluation of 2003 contains a list showing the "depth at their narrowest point of some of the world's most dramatic canyons". Those which are part of the inscription are marked "*". Tiger Leaping Gorge is listed but is NOT so marked!
The Evaluation also contains the comments : -
"Tiger Leap Gorge (Jinsha Jiang) is adjacent to (My italics) the Haba Snow Mt. reserve and, as one of the most dramatic expressions of an incised canyon, would (My Italics) also add to the overall justification for the nominated area. Finally, as more information on existing reserves is obtained, an expansion of the core zones within the total area is expected over the next few years. In light of these ongoing initiatives, IUCN suggested to the Chinese authorities during the field mission that a review of a revised protected area system in the Hengduan be presented in 3 years time. Such a recommendation from the Committee has been made in other cases and, although the delineation of the 7 clusters is considered adequate at this time, it is clear that potential for improvements exists." (But Nb The UNESCO Web site says "8 clusters". See below "PS")
But, despite this recommendation, I can find NO evidence that the boundaries of the site have officially been changed. These are the WHC minutes from years subsequent to inscription of the site
a. 2005 - they express concern about potential dam construction
b. 2006 ".....Notes with grave concern the findings of the mission in relation to proposed changes to the boundaries of the property which could significantly alter the values for which the property was inscribed, and mining operations within the property which threaten its integrity and values;.......Requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2007 for examination by the Committee at its 31st session, in response to the findings of the 2006 World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission, and in particular including:.....Topographical maps showing the boundaries of the serial property (My Italics) and detailed information on proposed changes to those boundaries, and how these changes will affect each of the criteria for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List;
c. 2007 ".....Reiterates its request to the State Party to amend the boundaries of the property to exclude major cleared encroachments and to add critical habitats for conservation, ensuring the establishment of linkage between different parts of the property via biological corridors or other options for ecological connectivity, and to submit all proposals for boundary changes for consideration by the Committee in line with paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;"
d. 2008 - reiterates the request of 2007.
As far as I can see Tiger Leaping Gorge wasn't and still isn't part of the inscribed site. Does anyone else have information on this ? I have downloaded the 53mb Nomination File. This "conveniently" moves between describing the entire "3 Parallel Rivers National Park" and the much smaller "Protected Areas" (ie it obfuscates the issue!!). On pages 193 and 199 (of 304) are 2 maps of these latter - That of the "Haba Snow mountain Area" on the north side of Tiger Leaping Gorge does NOT reach to the Yangtse (Jinsha) itself and the southern bank area "Yulong Snow Mountain" isn't even included. More evidence i feel that the gorge is NOT part of the original nominated area. The clues in the documentation seem quite clear but I suppose a case could be made ouot that a "bit" of the gorge is included - ie some of the mountainside on one side - but one's view on that I suppose partly depends on what one views as constituting a "gorge" - I would have thought it should encompass both banks, from the bottom up for a reasonable distance along the "gorge"?
It would be terrible for someone to go to the Gorge thinking they were "ticking off" the site when they were not!! If anyone is going, by all means don't miss Tiger Leaping Gorge, but I would make sure I took in Bita Lake as well!
PS A re-reading of the Nomination dossier seems to indicate that China originally intended to nominate the entire Yunnan National Park area but had to make a late change to reduce the area in the light of IUCN comments (presumably much of the larger area wouldn't meet the required integrity and conservation standards). This would explain the inconsistencies in the documentation and the fragmented nature of the sites. Thus it is that, apart from an introductory Page 1, the entire dossier from pages 2 to 256 describes the entire area of the National Park apart from a single (and obviously additional) set of maps on pages 193 -202. Then, on page 257 a section called "Supplementary Information" appears! It starts "On December 9, 2002, in response to the request of the World Heritage Center of UNISCO, we revised 'Supplementary Materials of Application for World Natural Heritage of Three Parallel River' and confirmed it as follows:
1. Areas Involved
1.1 To avoid confusion over the scope and area resulted from naming, this document refers to the nominated areas as "THREE PARALLEL RIVERS OF YUNNAN PROTECTED AREAS"
1.2 The recommendations of the IUCN on the composition of the nominated areas are adopted here"
At this point the inconsistency about the number of areas actually nominated arises.
So on page 258 it states "Based on the suggestions of IUCN experts and considering the individual characteristics of the seven (My Italics) regions of the nominated area, the core zones and buffer zones of each region are specified". Yet elsewhere 8 regions are specified. It appears that this has occurred because " the original Haba Snow Mountain is composed of two relatively independent parts, therefore, in order to exercise efficient management and protection, the entire district has been separated into two areas, namely the 'Haba Snow Mountain Area' and the 'Qianhu Mountain Area.
So it is that the entire IUCN evaluation document talks of 7 regions ("The 7 clusters are contained with a larger geographic unit of 3.4 mil. ha. administratively referred to as the Three Parallel Rivers National Park", "this is a serial nomination comprising 7 separate clusters" etc). The split into 8 must have occurred quite late in the nomination process and IUCN/China failed to correct all the references!