China is one of the countries in the world with largest carbonate rock occurred, and it is in south China that the most typical and diverse karst landforms developed. Centered by Guizhou Province and covering some 600,000 square kilometers the South China Karst terrain is believed the largest single karst area in the world, including eastern Yunnan, most of Guizhou, with a major extension into parts of Chongqing, Sichuan, Hunan, Hubei and Guangdong. With high altitude plateau (average 2000-2200 elevation) in the northwest and low-lying plain (average 100-120 elevation) in the southeast, the overall topography features a giant slope declining from northwest to southeast.
South China Karst is the title of the serial application for the World Natural Heritage by Chinese Government. The nominated property (Phase 1) comprises three areas of Chongqing Wulong Karst (gorge), Guizhou Libo Karst (cone) and Yunnan Shilin Karst (pinnacle). The total area of the three sites covers core area of 476 sq.km. and the buffer zones of 984 sq.km.
Form different perspectives, the karst areas comprehensively reflect the unique natural features of the South China Karst terrain, highlighting its special and representative karst landforms, karst ecosystem and biodiversity, and exceptional natural beauty.
Geologically, the South China Karst region is located in the southwest margin of Yangtze landmass, in most Paleozoic and early Mesozoic period (Cambrian to Triassic), this region was oceanic environment with lower latitude than present. Thousands meters thick carbonate layers, particularly late Paleozoic period (Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian), deposited. Due to earth movement, this region was uplifted as land since late Triassic and started its karst landform development. Drawn by the Himalayan mountain building since late Tertiary, this region experienced a rapid tilting uplift which resulted in its today's sloping topography.
Long tern complex geological evolution gave rise to exceptional diverse karst landforms in this region, including the most typical karst landforms in the world of tower kart (Fenglin), pinnacle karst (Stone Forest), and cone karst (Fengcong), as well as some unusual karst phenomena such as Tiankeng (giant karst pit) and Difeng (deep karst fissure). Besides, there are numerous spectacular underground cave systems and rich cave sediments. All these make this region the world's "museum of continental tropic-subtopic karst" because of its unrivaled richness and uniqueness.
Within the South China Karst area, the thick carbonate layers that deposited from Cambrian to Triassjc contain some globally significant fossils such as the Fauna of keichousaurus Hui , etc. which are the important life record of the earth.
The nominated area has richest biodiversity, containing abundant rare, endangered and indigenous pant and animal species. In Chogngqing and Guizhou karst areas there are more than 6000 higher plant species, including D.involucrate, C. argyrophyll, Cycas guizhouensis, Taxus chinensis, etc. threatened and endemic species. This karst terrain is not only the home to plenty of animals ranging from beasts, birds, amphibians, fish as well as cave animals but also the home to many threatened and indigenous, species such as Presbytis francoisi, Neofelis nebulosa, Aqila chrysaetos, Moschus berezovskit, etc. i.e, the nominated area is the sanctuary to many threatened plant and animal species.
Rich and unique karst landforms contained in the nominated area display exceptional natural beauty, many areas have long been traditional Chinese scenic resorts for hundreds years, of which, the tiankengs in Chongqing, Stone Forest in Yunnan and the Guizhou waterfalls are world-renown natural wanders.