Earth Sky Island

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For those who watched Avatar, behold, the Earth Sky Island, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (full name: Hunan Zhangjiajie National Forest Park; Chinese: pinyin: Húnán Zha-ngjia-jiè Guójia- Se-nlín Go-ngyuán) is a unique national forest park located in Zhangjiajie City in northern Hunan Province in the People’s Republic of China.

In 1982 it was recognized as China’s first national forest park (4,810 hectares). Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was designated a much larger (397.5 km²) Wulingyuan National Park by the State Council on August 1, 1988. In 1992, Wulingyuan National Park was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was then approved by the Ministry of Land and Resources as Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest National Geopark (3,600 km²) in 2001. In 2004, Zhangjiajie Geopark was listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The most notable geographic features of the park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. They are the result of many years of erosion. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. Much of the erosion which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.

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