Reminders of the Past
This ecoregion is home to some of China’s rarest and most distinctive mammals, including the giant panda and Sichuan snub-nosed monkey. The climate here is subtropical to temperate, creating forests thick with several bamboo species that support the pandas.
The Qinling Mountains reach elevations as high as 12,000 feet (3,700 m). They run east-west and are subject to strong, cold winter winds on the northern slopes and rain and warmth on the southern slopes. The Qinling Mountains form an important boundary between two of China's largest watersheds, the Chiangjiang (Yangtze River) and Huang He (Yellow River). Two nature reserves in the ecoregion, Foping and Changqing, are important to protecting the panda’s habitat in the Qinling Mountains.
The foothills of the Qinling Mountains are dominated by oak, elm, walnut, maple, and ash trees. As elevation increases, broadleaf evergreen species and conifers begin to dominate. Larch and birch do well on the highest hills, while Rhododendron and dwarf bamboo create a thick understory. The Abies chinensis fir tree is endemic. Protected plants such as red firs, katsura, and hardy rubber trees are sheltered in nature reserves. The air is filled with the calls of titmice, tree creepers, and nuthatches, and babblers occasionally make their way here from the south. Goatlike takins climb the hills, golden and blue-eared pheasants move through the underbrush, and Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys swing through the treetops. Rare giant pandas enjoy the dense forests and variety of bamboo protected in the Foping and Changqing Nature Reserves.
Cause for Concern
Habitat preservation is a higher priority than breeding endangered animals, like the snub-nosed monkey, panda, and takin, in captivity. Commercial forestry used to be prevalent in the Qinling Mountains prior to the present logging ban. However, if the ban is lifted, these forests could be slated for destruction.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001