Three Parallel Rivers National Park
“Three Parallel Rivers” National Park, Yunnan Province
This vast complex comprises eight clusters of largely mountain protected areas in northwest Yunnan where the Tibetan plateau bends south, breaking into steep glaciated chains running north-south, between which the 2,000m deep gorges of the upper Yangtze (Jinsha Jiang), Mekong (Lancang Jiang) and Salween (Nu Jiang) rivers run parallel for over 300 km.
It is a landscape of very great topographic, geologic and climatic variety, scenic beauty and unparalleled biological diversity. There are 118 peaks over 5,000 meters high, glaciers, waterfalls and hundreds of small lakes. Owing to its range of elevations, its location on the boundaries of three major bio-geographical realms - east Asia, south-eastern Asia and the Tibetan plateau - and as an ecological corridor between north and south, it contains most of the Pala arctic temperate biomes from alpine to southern sub-tropical. The Three Parallel Rivers Protected Area is an epicenter of Chinese biodiversity with over 6000 species of plants, a quarter of which were first discovered there.
Especially during the spring month’s botanists and nature lovers will find an immense and magnificent array of blooming wild flowers, amongst them 200 species of rhododendron, rare species of gentians, colorful azaleas, edelweiss, alpine rose and cyclamen. Furthermore the Three Parallel Rivers National Park serves as a refuge for some endangered species like the Yunnan Golden Monkey, the Snow Leopard or the Bengal Tiger. It is claimed that over 25% of the world’s animal species, many of them evict and endangered, are found in the area.
The Three Parallel Rivers Protected area was added to the UNESCO Natural Heritage List in 2003. It covers an area of 17’000 km2 (about 6’500 sq miles), roughly half the size of Taiwan or almost the size of the state of Hawaii.