“Chinese authorities have taken the rare step of banning tourists from a key protection area of the renowned Mount Wuyi on the World Heritage List to better preserve the environment…” was a statement from local authorities in Fuzhou, where Mt. Wuyi, which was named a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, is located. the site comprises a national nature reserve and a scenic area in eastern Fujian Province.
According to the evaluation of the site made by UNESCO, archaeological evidence has shown that the Mountain area has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years. The people there gradually developed the Minyue culture, which was unique in this remote corner of China. The remains left by the many cultural groups that have occupied the area are still visible today.Some of the most well known archaeological sites in the area include, according to the article, a “Han City established in the 1st century B.C. and a number of temples and study centers associated with the birth of Neo-Confucianism in the 11th century A.D.”
Indeed, this region was well known to be somewhat of a hub of Neo-Confucian and Taoist intellectual activity, and was home to may of the 11th and 12th century academies, of which the famed Song Dynasty philosopher, Zhuxi, was a member.
In addition, the site is known for its biodiversity, including 11 categories of vegetation, 475 species of vertebrates, and 4,635 types of insects.
UNESCO World Heritage states that:
“Systematic conservation may be considered to have begun as early as the 8th century AD, when Tang
Emperor Xuanzhong declared Wuyishan to be a celebrated mountain and issued an edict controlling
forestry operations, thereby protecting the landscape as a whole. The first supervisor of the area was appointed
by the Imperial court in 1121. Further protection and development control resulted from the establishment of
the Imperial tea plantation in 1302.”
The latest ban on tourism, which will only limit non-academic tourists from entering the very central area of the site (the scenic area surrounding Mt. Wuyi will remain open to the public), will the latest effort in the conservation of this cultural and natural treasure.