Natural heritage is recognized as the top of natural scenery in the world. The majority of intercontinental and international travels prefer to choice the World Heritage sites. There are total 176 natural heritages inscribed on the World Heritage List up to 2009. Only 7 World Natural Heritages are distributed in southern China, while, northeast and northwest are blank. Application of World Natural Heritage in Xinjiang is important to enhance the international reputation of Xinjiang, to promote the development of world-class scenic spots, to develop the international tourism, and to stimulate local economic development. Meanwhile, the application will introduce the highest international standards of protection and management to ensure sustainable development of heritage sites.
Under the promotion of Xinjiang Institute Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and relative institutes of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the application of World Natural Heritage has made the following substantial progresses since October, 2009. First is the determination of the items of application under the help of United Nation experts which include Tianshan Mountains, Kanas, Taklimakan Desert-Populus Vegetation, Karakoram Mountains-Pamir Plateau, Yardang landform and Altun Mountain Nature Reserve. Secondly, the list of four World Natural Heritages was submitted to United Nations World Heritage Centre through the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People’s Republic of China. Thirdly, Tianshan Mountains is firstly determined to apply because of its heritage values, followed by Kanas as the expansion of World Natural Heritage. Fourth, the schedule of application of World Natural Heritage was determined according to the arrangement of United Nations World Heritage Centre. Moreover, 2011 is the most critical year of the application for World Natural Heritage of Tianshan Mountains and Kanas.