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China

Places We Protect: Laojun Mountain, Northern Yunnan


All throughout China, places of great scenic beauty are inseparably linked with culture. This is especially true of the red sandstone cliffs of Laojun Mountain, which is named for the deified founder of Daoism. Legends say that as Laojun passed the mountain, he dropped his magic mirror. The shattered pieces later turned into the 99 dazzling lakes of Laojun Mountain. One of these, the famous Dragon Pool, lies on the mountain like a splendid piece of green jade.

Laojun Mountain provides vital habitat for the endangered Yunnan golden monkey, but human populations continue to encroach on the area, threatening plant diversity and destroying vital monkey habitat. A ban by the Chinese government halted commercial logging in the area, but market demand has led to persistent illegal logging within the park. Poaching also remains a problem, as the price of wildlife products has increased dramatically over the last ten years. The Nature Conservancy is working to help the newly created Laojunshan National Park protect the region’s stunning natural resources from these threats far into the future.

What We're Conserving 

Laojun Mountain National Park shelters a remarkably diverse array of plants, particularly in its rhododendron forests. More than 10 percent of the world's rhododendron species are found here.

Nineteen of the 92 mammal species and 79 of the 152 bird species found at Laojun Mountain are included on the global Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list. Laojun also hosts two of only 11 known populations of the Yunnan golden monkey. With less than 2,000 remaining, these primates are among the most endangered in the world and are, along with the giant panda, one of the most endangered species in China. Survival of the Yunnan golden monkey is critical for cultural as well as scientific reasons, and protecting its habitat requires immediate conservation action.

Our Conservation Strategy 

The Conservancy has played a major role in Laojun Mountain's transition into a national park. We are:

  • Working closely with communities in key areas to establish self-sustaining forest patrol teams, community associations, and initiatives that keep them actively participating in conservation of their natural resources.
  • Developing a legal framework at both provincial and local levels that will solidify the park’s status and assisting local government to institute and improve management of the park.
  • Leading a coalition of organizations collaborating on a range-wide conservation plan for the Yunnan golden monkey.

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