The 37th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) inscribed China's Xinjiang Tianshan on the World Heritage List as a natural site on 21 June, 2013. Xinjiang Tianshan is the first site inscribed on the World Heritage List in Xinjiang.
During the biding process of Xinjiang Tianshan on the World Heritage List, the researchers from Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences (XIEG) undertook the technical works of foundational scientific researches, and preparing the application text and related affiliated data. After four years of unremitting efforts, the researchers from XIEG successfully accomplished the glorious mission assigned by the governments of China and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
There are six nominated areas in Xinjiang Tianshan, including Tomur Peak National Natural Reserves, Kuerdening National Nature Reserve, Tianshan Tianchi National Park, Bayinbuluke National Nature Reserve, Sayram National Park, and Nalaty National Park. The six districts have different scientific and aesthetic values. They include the geology and geography of the Tianshan Mountains, vertical natural biogeographic belts, habitats of natural plants and wild animals, the beauty of mountainous natural landscapes and so on. These districts and their various assets together form the special natural heritage value of Xinjiang Tianshan.
The Tianshan Mountains extend across China, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan from east to west. The whole length from east to west is 2,500 km and the width from south to north ranges from 100-400 km. The length of the section within China reaches 1,700 km. The average elevation of the mountains is 4,000 m, and Tomur Peak is the highest in the Tianshan Mountains. The total number of glaciers in Xinjiang Tianshan is the most in China and the ice volume is the second largest in China. Numerous rivers originate from the glaciers of Xinjiang Tianshan. The runoff of 20%-50% in Xinjiang is from glacial melt-water of Tianshan Mountains and, in some cases, it is as high as 70%. All these rivers support the oasis ecosystems on which human societies depend.
The 37th session of the World Heritage Committee is held in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on June 21, 2013. China's Xinjiang Tianshan natural site was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List during the session, the committee announced on Friday (Xinhua /Li Ying).