In some places there are as many as 3,000 terraces between the lower edges of the forest and the valley floor, where villagers grow red rice in a complex, integrated farming and breeding system.
The World Heritage Committee cautioned at its 37th session in Cambodia that the system would be vulnerable in terms of “providing an adequate living for farmers that will allow them to remain on the land” and “to fluctuations in the price of red rice”.
Chinese authorities were requested to provide plans for tourism management and development of the region by the end of 2013. A major information centre is being developed at Xinjie Town that will be completed by 2020.
On Friday, the Committee added the Xinjiang Tianshan site, one of the world's largest mountain ranges, on the list of natural heritage sites. About 15 new sites are likely to be inscribed on the list during the session which will continue until June 27.