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Nanji Islands Biosphere Reserve, China

Nanji Island is the main island of a group of islands and islets, situated in the south-eastern waters of Pingyang County, Zhejiang Province, in south-east China. This was the first marine/coastal biosphere reserve in China. The 28 km long coastline consists of exposed bedrock and sharp cliffs, bays and islets, offering a multitude of diverse marine habitats and hosting a rich number of shellfish and algae species. The main activities are fish production and trade, tourism, poultry raising and harvesting.

Designation date: 1998

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Regional network: East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN)

Ecosystem-based network:




    Surface : 20,106 ha

    • Core area(s): 804 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 3,404 ha
    • Tansition zone(s): 15,898 ha

    Location: 27°27'15"N - 120°32'30"E

    Administrative authorities

    Nanji Islands National Marine Nature Reserve Administration
    Room 215 Building 9 County Yard
    Pingyang County, Zhejiang Province

    Tel.: +86 577-63716151


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    Ecological Characteristics

    Nanji Islands Biosphere Reserve, located in the south-eastern waters of Pingyang County, Zhejiang Province, consists of 52 islands, each of which is more than 500 m2, as well as dozens of bare rocks, submerged reefs and their surrounding coastal waters. The major topographic feature of Nanji Islands is low hilly terrain. Geotectonics of Nanji Islands is in the second part of the new Chinese bumped-broken zone and a mainland stone head island formed by uplift of the bumped zone in south of Zhejiang’s subsidence. Due to the different composition of the rock island, there is a significant difference in basic features, landform morphology, the distribution of vegetation and other natural landscape, the distribution area of granite and volcanic rock.

    The biosphere reserve offers a multitude of diverse marine habitats which host a rich number of shellfish and algae species. Fifteen of the identified 403 species of shellfish have been found only in the Nanji waters. The shellfish and algae are intermittently distributed in the tropical and temperate marine realms, which makes this species-rich site even more important for conservation and scientific research. These species are concentrated in the core areas. Geographical distribution phenomenon of fracture shows characteristics of the species resources under the influence of a wide range of factors. Nanji Islands Reserve plays an important role in marine ecological research and serves as a species resources base for marine shellfish and algae.


    Socio-economic characteristics

    There are 11 administrative villages in the Reserve which distribute mainly in Houlong, Huokunao, Mazuao, Xinmatou in the main island with the residents’ population of more than 2,000. Residents are mainly engaged in offshore fishing, aquaculture, and tourism. Tourism is becoming more and more important, with approximately 30,000 tourists per year (1998). The reserve carries a strong martime culture, recording a rich history of human activities and changes. Due to large-scale collection and harvesting in the past few decades, the marine and terrestrial life is degraded to various degrees and therefore one of the management challenges is to restore and protect these resources. One attempt to decrease the damage caused by this random collection and harvesting consists of demonstration projects established to promote aquaculture. Other efforts will be made to conduct breeding and culture of young shellfish and algae.



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    Last updated: July 2019