The Jinggangshan Nature Reserve was set up in 1981, and was upgraded to a national nature reserve in April 2000. Total area of the nature reserve is 15,873 hectares. It is a forestry-type nature reserve, which aims at protecting the mountain forest ecosystem as well as rare and precious wild animals and plants. The terrain in the reserve is stiff and the land forms are complicated. In the nature reserve, there are more than 50 peaks at an elevation of more than 1,000 meters above the sea level, with the highest peak, Mount Pingshui, at an elevation of 1,779 meters. The mountains show clear vertical variations in climate, vegetation and soil. The average temperature ranges between 14 and 17 degrees centigrade, and the annual precipitation is 1,865.5mm and the frost-free period is 250 days.
The Jinggangshan National Nature Reserve is in the southern Jiangxi province, at the middle section of the Luoxiao Mountain at the borders of Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. The geographical coordinates of the nature reserve are between 114 °04′ 05〃 and 114°16′38〃 east longitude and between 26°38′39〃 and 26°40′03〃 north latitude. It is a forest-type nature reserve.
The nature reserve is mainly to protect the central subtropical humid evergreen broad-leaf forest system and biodiversity. The Jinggangshan nature reserve has more than 3,400 species of plants in more than 280 families and more than 800 genus, and has more than 190 species of rare and endangered plants, including 40 already listed under key national protection. There are four species of plants under the Grade I national protection – Taxus chinensis var. mairei, Bretschneidera sinensis, Ginkgo and Abies ziyuanensis as well as 36 species of plants under Grade II national protection, including Camellia pitardii, Changnienia amoena Chien and Henry Emmenopterys. The nature reserve has 267 species and sub-species of vertebrata as well as more than 3,000 species of insects. There are 37 species of wildlife under national protection, including five under Grade I national protection such as yellow-bellied pheasant, white-necked long-tailed pheasant, leopard, clouded leopard and South China tiger, as well as 32 species of wildlife under Grade II national protection, including Asian golden cat, large Indian civet and stump-tailed macaque.
This reserve is located at the middle section of the Luoxiao Mountain, which is the watershed between the Ganjiang River and the Xiangjiang River. Mountains in the reserve are stiff, with an elevation between 280 meters and 1,600 meters above the sea level. The land forms are complicated, and the terrain is higher in the western part and lower in the eastern park. It is in the subtropical warm and humid climate zone.
The broad-leaf vegetation in the Jinggangshan nature reserve is distributed by the nature of vertical variations. Between the elevation of 250 and 1,400 meters, it is the evergreen broad-leaf forest, the mountain coniferous forest between an elevation of 1,400 and 1,600 meters, the montane elfin forest between the elevation of 1,300 and 1,500 meters, and the montane shrubs between the elevation of 1,600 and 1,800 meters. According to surveys, there are more than 2,400 species of wild plants in the nature reserve, including 39 species under national protection, which belong to more than 830 genus in more than 210 families. It also has more than 300 species of pteridophyte, belonging to more than 90 genus in more than 50 families. Thirty-nine species of plants in the reserve are under national protection, such as pseudotaxus chienii, Henry Emmenopterys and Michelia odora. In the forests in the nature reserve, there are different species of wildlife, including 42 species of beasts and animals, which belong to 26 genus in 17 families under 8 orders. And 14 species of the wildlife are under national protection, including South China tiger, snow leopard, large Indian civet, small Indian civet, pangolin and rhesus monkey. There are 94 species of birds, which belong to 75 genus of 34 families in 13 orders, including 12 species of rare, precious and endangered birds as yellow-bellied pheasant and white-necked long-tail pheasant. In addition, the nature reserve is also the habitat of 31 species of reptiles, 26 species of amphibians and more than 1,000 kinds of insects.
The complicated terrain and land forms in Jinggangshan are suitable for the divergence of plant species. To date, 20 species (including variants) of plants have been found in the Jinggangshan reserve. They include: Jinggangshan Cer cordatum Pax, Actindia chinensis Var.ginkangshensis, Jinggangshan sweet oak, Jinggangshan Pteridium revolutum (Bl.) Naka, Euonymus jinggangshanensis, Gelidocalamus stellatus Wen,Ilex chinensis Sims, Ilex suaveolens (Levl) Loes, Polystichum tsingkanshanense Ching, Neillia thyrsiflora, Polystichum tsingkanshanense Ching, Jinggangshan Rhododendron simsii Planch, Rhododendron hypoblematosum, Rhododendron mucronatum G.Don, Sinobambusa tootsik (Sieb.) Makino, Ternstroemia subrotundifolia and Vitis jinggangensis. All these plants are new species and are not ancient and special species. Most of them grow in areas of higher elevation, and have strict requirements for growing, and need the broad-leaf forests to protect them. Therefore, to protect these plants, it is a must to protect the ecosystem of broad-leaf forests.
The nature reserve has built a museum of animal and plant specimen, with more than 800 plant specimen and more than 200 animal specimens. It also constructed a botanical garden, growing more than 720 species of plants.
The flora in the nature reserve have ancient origins. According paleobotanical studies, there were always seed flora growing in Jiangxi in the Mesozoic age, and fossils of Cycas revoluta Thunb were discovered at the Pingxiang coalmine. In the Cretaceous Period, angiosperm flora began to emerge. From the Paleocene Epoch, weather in Jiangxi region became warm and humid, and some ancient angiosperm flora that could survive hot began to wither and disappear, and were replaced by angiosperm flora which were suitable for warm and humid weather. After witnessing the changes, the general trend for water and heat distribution began to stabilize. Therefore, the offspring of the flora plants survived and multiplied, and are of great significance to scientific researches.
The nature reserve hosts more than 3,400 species of higher plants, including 236 species of Pteridophyte, 15 species of Gymnosperm flora and more than 2,500 species of angiosperm plants.
For characteristics in the nature reserve:
1. Ancient origins. In the Jinggangshan nature reserve, many ancient species of flora are preserved, including the most ancient club moss, the Japanese Polypody Rhizome and Plagiogyria adnata (Bl.) Bedd belonging to the Mesozoic age, as well as flora of the Lauraceae, Fagaceae, Magnoliaceae and Theaceae which emerged from the belonging to the Mesozoic age;
2. Complicated and mixed distribution of flora belonging to different climate zones, including temperate zone, the transitional area of the tropical zone, central subtropical zone and south subtropical zone.
3. A big number of flora that are unique to the region.
The Jinggangshan nature reserve has 23 genus of flora, accounting for 10.1% of the country total number (226 genus), and 110 species. The typical flora in the reserve are the broad-leaf forest.
Characteristics of flora in the reserve:
1. At an elevation between 500 and 600 meters above the sea level: Cunninghamia lanceolata forests and coniferous pinus massoniana forests.
2. At an elevation between 600 and 1,300 meters above the sea level: flora of the Lauraceae, Fagaceae, Magnoliaceae and Theaceae, mixed with pinus massoniana forests.
3. At an elevation between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above the sea level: mixed broad-leaf and coniferous forests.
4. At an elevation higher than 1,500 meters above the sea level: mountain low forests, including Schima argentea Pritz, Rhododendron fortunei Lindl and Photinia parvifolia (Pritz.) Schneid.
The nature reserve has more than 40 species of flora and plants under Grade-II and Grade-III national protection, including Bretschneidera sinensis, Changnieniaamoena Chien and Pseudotaxus chienii. The reserve also is home to many flora and plants of high economic value, including 1,200 species of timber trees, more than 600 species of herbal plants and about 100 species of wild fruits.
The nature reserve has more than 260 species of land vertebrates and more than 3,000 species of insects. Wildlife under national protection include South China tiger, snow leopard, yellow-bellied pheasant, large Indian civet and short-tailed monkey. It also is the paradise for many birds that are unique in the region, including Parus venustulus and Spizixos spizixos semitorques.