Slideshow Description: The slideshow is intended to ‘tell the story’ of the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, and features a portfolio of photos from a visit by Peter Howard in early June 2017. The slideshow begins at the head of one of two upper valleys with views of the rocky peaks and high altitude forests. Visitors to the Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park are concentrated in a narrow strip of land in the valley floor, without access to any of the higher parts of park. These valley bottoms contain a series of pools, lakes and waterfalls created through the deposition of calcareous ‘tufa’ in a long series of terraces. The pools and lakes that lie behind these natural dams are crystal clear and coloured in various shades of blue, green and brown, reflecting the particular conditions in each pool. The underwater world is punctuated by fallen logs and branches decorated with a prolific growth of multi-coloured algae, and wherever these logs break the water surface small ‘islands’ of herbaceous vegetation develop. In spring and early summer the vivid green of fresh leaves, and the splashes of colour from flowering rhododendrons help create a spectacular natural setting, while autumn colours are perhaps even more delightful. Throughout the valley the terraces give rise to particularly beautiful waterfalls, and two of the most popular are featured in the slideshow – Pearl Shoals and the Nuorilang Waterfall. In addition to its spectacular scenery, the Jiuzhaigou Valley is important for the conservation of various rare and endangered species of fauna and flora, some of which are shown. There is a small population of giant pandas, perhaps now rather fewer than there used to be as a result of a die-off of bamboo, their principal food. Two other prominent rare mammals that occur in Jiuzhaigou are the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey and the Sichuan Takin (or goat-antelope, a large strange-looking grazing animal that lives in the high mountains). ‘Jiuzhaigou’ means ‘Nine Village Valley’ in reference to the nine villages that once occupied the area. Today, many of the villages have been relocated outside the park, but a few remain in the lower valley, retaining some of their traditional attributes. Chortens, prayer wheels and a traditional watermill can be seen in Shuzheng village, while prayer flags add a splash of colour to significant landscape features (such as old trees, viewpoints and caves) throughout the park.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2014) the conservation status of Jiuzhaigou Valley is ‘good with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that ‘Overall, there is a positive and improving trend in the condition of the outstanding natural value and attributes of the property. Protection of some natural areas and resources has been compromised in the past especially by rapid and excessive tourism infrastructure development and by visitor overcrowding in excess of the environmental and social carrying capacity. There is an opportunity to build on the many recent improvements in management and efforts at mitigation of threats and their impacts and to establish a strong and effective protection regime. However, achieving success in this will require continuing and careful vigilance, and astute judgment in management intervention. This would be enhanced through more capacity building of staff, the provision of sustainable funding and the cooperation of all key stakeholders and partners, particularly from the local community. Integration of the communities and local knowledge from indigenous communities, and training and capacity opportunities for local youth needs to be increased. Undesirable growth of mass tourism, commercial development and expanding urbanization remain the most worrying trends and the greatest challenge for the management authorities.’