Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve lies at the conjecture of Baoshan City, Tengchong County and Lushui County, west of Yunnan Province. It is to the west side of Nujiang River and at the Sino-Myanmar border. The Reserve lies between east longitude of 98o34′- 98o50′ and north latitude of 24o56′- 26o09′. It runs through the southern section of Hengduan Mountains from south to north. Covering a total area of 120,000 hectares with forest coverage of 85%, the Reserve is about 9 kilometers wide from the east to the west, and 135 kilometers long from the south to the north. Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve is characterized by its natural landscape of biological and climate vertical belts, various types of vegetation, and a great variety of plants and animals. In 1992, the Reserve was classified as a Class-A reserve of international significance by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF); and it was included in theInternational Man and Biosphere Reserve Networkby the end of 2000.
The Reserve lies in the central subtropical zone. Due to its location in southwest monsoon zone of the Indian Ocean, wind often blows from the west. The high peaks and deep valleys of the Mountains have created in this mountain area three different climate zones, namely, subtropical, temperate and cold temperate. From the foot of the mountain to its top there are concretely 6 different types namely south subtropical, mid subtropical, north subtropical, warm temperate, mid temperate, and cold temperate zones. The precipitation increases gradually from 736.7 millimeters on the east slope with an elevation of 755 meters, 1,763 millimeters on the west slope with an elevation of 1,440 meters to 3,904.4 millimeters at the top with an elevation of 3,210 meters. This constitutes a unique multi-level climate and an entire subtropical ecosystem resulting in its strikingly splendid landscape of biological and climate vertical belts, which leaves people an impression that different section of the mountains is in different season even on the same day.
As part of Hengduan Mountains, Gaoligong Mountain is long and narrow and its terrain is south-to-north, higher in the north and lower in the south, with a relative height difference of more than 2,827 meters. The highest peak, Wona, is 3,916 meters above the sea level. To the east of Wona Peak lies the Great Nujiang Canyon ranking second of its kind in the world.
The Gaoligong Mountain is surrounded by scores of volcanoes, and therefore the Reserve is rich in geothermal resources. There are 4 scores of hot springs with marked curative effect on skin diseases and rheumatism. In the Reserve, steams and waterfalls can be seen here and there. Tingming Lake on the top of the mountain is a crate lake formed several hundred years ago, and it is limpid and transparent.
Vegetation here is vertically and obviously distributed into 9 types, including monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest, temperate coniferous forest, mountain liverwort shrub, cold temperate grassy marshland, etc.
Recent research shows that there are more than 1,000 species of higher plants in the Reserve. The evergreen broad-leaved forest in the east and west mountain areas is one of the best-preserved forests in Yunnan Province. The evergreen broad-leaved forest here is mainly composed of camphor trees and camellia, etc. The Reserve is proper habitats of over 20 precious species such as Phoebe nanmu, and Tsuga Chinensis. In addition, it is rich in medicinal, oil, and fibrous plants and has preserved rare medicinal plants in China and the world as a whole.
The unique geographical location and climate features make Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve a paradise of wild animals. Hengduan Mountains extending from south to north was called by zoologists as the source of mammals", forming a complex fauna pattern with both new and ancient types and a feature of transition from south to north. Among a great variety of animals, there are over 30 species under state protection such as antelopes, Hylobates hoolock leuconedys, Nycticebus coucang bengalensis, clouded leopards and civets. Among them, antelopes that enjoy the same reputation with giant pandas and golden monkeys are indigenous animals of Gaoligong Mountain. There are more than 300 species of birds such as silver pheasants, golden pheasants, peacocks, sunbirds and various Garrulax canorus.