The Shilin Stone Forest is situated in the Shilin Yi Autonomous County, and the set of limestone formation can be found there in the area of about 500 square kilometers. It is some 90 kilometers away from the provincial capital of the Kunming in the People’s Republic of China. This stone forest can be seen in the Yunnan Province, which is a sort of karst formation. Even the years of seismic activities and the wind and water erosion have also helped in giving shape to the present limestone formation in the Shilin Stone Forest. This is a geomorphologic landscape, which is dominated particularly by the stones as it is made up of uplift of crust and has gone multi-phase corrosion both by the surface and the groundwater flowing through the fractures made in the rocks. This site is also credited as a AAAAA-class tourism site.
It is known as the ‘First Wonder of the World’ since the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644 A.D. They are said to be formed some 270 million years ago, and are an attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists. The area had an extensive deposit of sandstone, which was overlaid by the limestone, and it took place during the Permian period. After this, the vast area of limestone was formed, which looked particularly like a forest. Even a legend is also told of this place from one thousand years ago about a beautiful girl named Ashima who was forbidden to marry her lover and turned into a rock. There is also a famous rock by her name popularly known as the Ashima Rock.
The Shilin Forest also has seven scenic areas like the Greater and Lesser Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forest, Lake Chang, Zhiyun Cave, Lake Yue, Qifeng Cave and Dadie Waterfall. On June 24th of every year in this Stone Forest, the Sani people held the famous Torch festival. This festival features various kinds of traditional sort of performances like the bull-fighting, wrestling, dragon-playing, pole-climbing, A-Xi Moon dance, and lion dancing. The Shilin is also known as the “Museum of Stone Forest Karst,” which have many pinnacle-shaped, mushroom-shaped, column-shaped, and pagoda-shaped groups of rocks. The Shilin Forest is said to display the superlative sort of karst features, which cannot be seen anywhere else in this world, and they have different shapes and can change colors.
Habitat and Biodiversity
The habitat of the Shilin forest represents varied species of ants, which were collected and are trapped in the five types of Karst in this area. It also has the zonal vegetation in monsoons, grasslands, and brush lands. There are many dominant species of ants found here, like the Kartidris Ashima, Pseudolasius bournica, and Pinus yunnanensis which are found in the Stone Forest.
Environmental Threats and Conservation
The environmental threats caused in the area are largely due to human disturbances. Hunting and fishing in the area is also another factor, and even the old trees which were present in the area were cut down for fuel or for making rolling vehicles. However, it is seen that the faith-based management system has led the local communities to protect the environment and its importance to their culture as well.