Meili Snow Mountain Range is a sacred and beautiful landscape with major ecological value; its forests are vital for endangered snow and clouded leopards, Asiatic black bears and red pandas. While rich in natural resources, this remote area is one of the poorest in China and lacks basic necessities like roads, clean water and waste removal services.
Tourism brings much-needed revenue to the community, but without proper planning and infrastructure, it also has the potential to destroy the pristine landscape and natural beauty that draws people there. The area is approved to be a National Park, but before it can open the existing waste must be removed and an ongoing process for waste removal and safe disposal must be developed.
Straddling the Yunnan-Tibet border, the Meili Snow Mountain Range rises steeply between the deep gorges of the Mekong and Salween Rivers. Towering 22,241 feet above sea level, Kawagebo Peak is the tallest mountain in Yunnan Province and is one of eight sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. Moreover, this sacred geography has profound implications for conservation. The extraordinary topographic extremes of the Meili Snow Mountain range — rising from arid canyons to snow-capped peaks — have contributed to the region’s significant biodiversity.
Because of the topographic extremes, the Meili area includes seven climatic zones, creating an incredible diversity of plant and fungi species. In addition to many endangered plant species, the Meili area is home to over 75% of Tibetan medicinal herbs.
Despite its rich natural resources, this remote area is one of the poorest in all of China. Besides tourism, wood collection for cooking, heating and construction remains a primary threat to biodiversity in Meili, causing habitat destruction and fragmentation.
The Conservancy is committed to meeting the conservation and human development needs of this area and its people. By supporting the creation of a new national park at Meili Snow Mountain, the Conservancy is bolstering China’s fledgling national park program and creating new jobs around carefully planned sustainable ecotourism as well as other locally-relevant sustainable livelihoods. In building the foundation for the park, the Conservancy helped local authorities to complete a master plan for Meili Snow Mountain that places special emphasis on reducing tourism-related threats, including waste.
The Conservancy's work at Meili Snow Mountain includes:
Watch a slideshow about waste removal and conservation in Yubeng.
Join a whitewater expedition through the upper Mekong, Salween and Yangtze rivers!