Muyu Town in Shennongjia
Muyu Town in Shennongjia
Location of Shennongjia in Hubei
Location of Shennongjia in Hubei
Shennongjia is located in Hubei
Location of the district seat in Hubei
Coordinates (Shennongjia government): 31°44′41″N 110°40′33″E / 31.7447°N 110.6759°E / 31.7447; 110.6759
CountryPeople's Republic of China
 • MayorZhou Senfeng (周森锋)
 • Total3,253 km2 (1,256 sq mi)
 • Total76,140
 • Density23/km2 (61/sq mi)
 • TotalCN¥ 2.1 billion
US$ 0.3 billion
 • Per capitaCN¥ 27,298
US$ 4,383
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Administrative division code429021
Official nameHubei Shennongjia
  1. Shennongding
  2. Laojunshan
CriteriaNatural: (ix), (x)
Inscription2016 (40th Session)
Area73,318 ha (181,170 acres)
Buffer zone41,536 ha (102,640 acres)
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese神农架林区
Traditional Chinese神農架林區
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese神农架
Traditional Chinese神農架

Shennongjia Forestry District (simplified Chinese: 神农架林区; traditional Chinese: 神農架林區; pinyin: Shénnóngjià Línqū) is a county-level administrative unit (a "forestry district") in northwestern Hubei province, People's Republic of China, directly subordinated to the provincial government. It occupies 3,253 square kilometres (1,256 sq mi) in western Hubei, and, as of 2007 had the resident population estimated at 74,000 (with the registered population of 79,976). On July 17, 2016, Hubei Shennongjia was listed as a World Heritage Site, the 50th World Heritage Site in China, because of its exceptional floral and faunal biodiversity and its protection of many rare, endangered, and endemic species.[4]

The population is predominantly (95%) Han Chinese, the remaining 5% being mostly Tujia.


An isolated farmhouse near Wenshui Village (温水), Hongping Town

The administrative status of Shennongjia is rather unusual, in that it is the only county-level administrative unit of the People's Republic of China designated a "forestry district" (林区), rather than a more usual county or county-level city.

Shennongjia's status within Hubei is also somewhat unusual, in that this county-level unit is directly administered by the provincial government as opposed to be part of a prefecture-level city or prefecture, as are Hubei's all "normal" counties. However, this arrangement is not unique to Shennongjia, as Hubei also has three county-level cities (Xiantao, Tianmen, Qianjiang) which are directly under the provincial government, without being part of a prefecture-level unit.

The district was created on May 28, 1970, from the adjacent areas of Badong County, Baokang County, Fang County and Xingshan County.[2]

Shennongjia is further divided into 6 towns, 1 township, and 1 ethnic township.[1][2][5]

Name Chinese (S) Hanyu Pinyin Division type 2010 Population[2]
Songbai [zh] 松柏 Sōngbǎi Zhèn Town 31,207
Yangri [zh] 阳日 Yángrì Zhèn Town 10,085
Hongping [zh] 红坪 Hóngpíng Zhèn Town 5,901
Muyu 木鱼 Mùyú Zhèn Town 9,089
Xinhua 新华 Xīnhuá Zhèn Town 3,688
Dajiuhu [zh] (formerly Jiuhu Township) 大九湖 (九湖) Dàjiǔhú Zhèn (Jiǔhú Xiāng) Town 3,657
Songluo Township [zh] 宋洛 Sòngluò Xiāng Township 6,609
Xiaguping Tujia Ethnic Township [zh] 下谷坪土家族 Xiàgǔpíng Tǔjiāzú Xiāng Ethnic township 5,904

The county seat is in Songbai Town in the northern of the district; the main tourist center is Muyu Town, near the southern border of the district.

There are numerous tourist attractions throughout the district, but, as of 2009, most of the district is closed to foreign tourists, with the exception of a narrow strip along its southern border (south of Yazikou Junction). The open area includes the Shennongjia National Nature Reserve.[citation needed]


On top of the Shennong Ding (Shennong's Peak)

Shennongjia Forestry District is named after the Shennongjia mountainous massif, which is usually considered to be the eastern (and the highest) section of the Daba Mountains (Daba Shan). The mountains of Shennongjia form a divide between two parts of the district: the central and northern part drains north, into the Han River (a tributary of the Yangtze which joins the Yangtze much farther east, in Wuhan), while the southern section drains into the Yangtze in a more direct way, via a number of short streams flowing south, such as Shen Nong Stream. Some of Hubei's highest mountains - which are also the highest mountains of the Daba Shan - are located within the district. The three tallest peaks, located west of Muyu town, are Shennong Deng (3,105 metres (10,187 ft) elevation), Da Shennongjia (3,052 metres (10,013 ft)), and Xiao Shennongjia (3,005 metres (9,859 ft), on the border with Badong County). Laojun Shan, 2,936 metres (9,633 ft) tall, is located northeast of Muyu.

Entrance to Shennongjia National Nature Reserve

Biodiversity and Conservation

Shannongjia Forestry District lies within the Daba Mountains evergreen forests ecoregion.[6]

There are a number of conservation areas in the district's mountains and wetlands, in particular the world-famous Shennongjia National Nature Reserve (神农架国家自然保护区), listed on UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves.[7] The reserve includes 2,618 square kilometres (1,011 sq mi) of forest,[8] and, due to a variety of natural conditions at different elevations, has high plant diversity. One survey by Chinese botanists reports 3,479 higher plant species found in a certain area.[9] Of those species, 1793 are endemic to China.[4] In fact, the district contains the highest diversity of deciduous woody plant species in the world.[10]

Virgin forest at approx 2500m above sea level

In addition to fostering high plant diversity, the variation in topography and the stability of the region's climate through past glaciation events has allowed for the maintenance of high animal diversity.[4] The protected animal species include golden snub-nosed monkey, whose population in the district was reported to have grown between 1990 and 2005 from 500 to over 1200. A specially protected 100-square-km area is designated for this endangered primate species.[11] Other species in the district include the Chinese giant salamander, the clouded leopard, and the Asiatic black bear[4] Overall, 600 vertebrate species have been observed in the Nature Reserve (92 mammals, 399 birds, 55 fish, 53 reptiles, and 37 amphibians), in addition to 4365 insect species.[4] This district is the type location for many Chinese species.

Shennongjia has sites of scientific interests to paleontologists as well. The Rhino Cave in Hongping Town has been described by Chinese paleontologists as the richest fossil site in the country after Zhoukoudian.[12]


Shennongjia has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cwa).

Climate data for Shennongjia (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.8
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.1
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2.6
Record low °C (°F) −14.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 17.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 8.6 9.1 11.6 12.3 14.4 13.7 16.3 15.0 13.6 12.0 9.1 7.2 142.9
Average snowy days 11.4 7.5 4.2 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 2.0 6.9 32.6
Average relative humidity (%) 69 69 68 68 72 75 80 81 81 79 73 68 74
Mean monthly sunshine hours 109.8 103.7 136.2 154.8 164.1 164.3 183.6 183.1 137.5 130.8 124.2 116.0 1,708.1
Percent possible sunshine 34 33 36 40 38 39 43 45 38 37 40 37 38
Source: China Meteorological Administration[13][14]


A hydroelectric dam under construction south of Hongping Town, Shennongjia

The district is mountainous and (as its name suggested) heavily forested, which, historically, made forestry the main industry. Over 100,000 cubic meters of timber was produced in the district annually from the 1960s to 1980s[11] (over 1,000,000 cubic metres (35,000,000 cu ft) in the 1970s[8]), but in the late 1990s the focus was switched from logging to forest conservation.[11] Officially, felling of natural forest completely ceased in March 2000.[8]

Tea plantations on a valley slope north of Muyu

The district's low population, compared to a typical Hubei county of a similar size, means comparatively small amount of agriculture; nonetheless, the district tries to put itself on the world map as a tea producer. There are mining operations throughout the district.

As elsewhere in the mountainous western Hubei, numerous small hydroelectric plants utilize the energy of Shennongjia's rivers and streams.

Numerous tourist facilities operate along the China National Highway 209, in particular in and around Muyu Town.

On average, the area remains comparatively poor, with the GDP per capita lower than any of Hubei's prefecture-level units.[8] Of course, direct comparison between Shennongjia and a prefecture-level unit of Hubei such as Yichang or Huangshi can be misleading, since nearly all of Hubei's prefecture-level units have a large urbanized core (with corresponding higher incomes), while Shennongjia does not.


A Cultural Revolution-era bridge on G209

The main north–south route throughout the district is China National Highway 209 (G209), which, however, as of 2009 is still "unimproved" in many places both within district (north of the national park entry at Yazikou) and in Badong County south of it. In practice most visitors enter the district from its southern border, traveling along a provincial highway from Yichang, which merges with G209 near Gaoyang in Xingshan County. This route is a good paved road, designated as the Yi-Shen (Yichang-Shennongjia) Route.

Hubei Provincial Route 307 (S307) runs through the northeastern part of the district, from G209 east to Songbai Town and on into the neighboring Baokang County (part of Xiangyang prefecture-level city).

In May 2021, Shennongjia was connected to the expressway network through the Baoshen Expressway, a branch expressway of the G59 Expressway.[15]

Due to the mountainous terrain, the district has no rail or water transport, and until recently, no air transportation. Despite the difficult and fragile terrain, construction of Shennongjia Hongping Airport started in April 2011 with an investment of 1 billion yuan.[16] Located west of Hongping Town, the airport opened in May 2014.


The name Shennongjia comes from the name of the mythical deity/legendary emperor Shennong and jia, meaning ladder: literally, "Shennong's ladder", after a mythical rattan ladder which Shennong was said to use to climb up and down the mountain (later, the ladder was said to have magically transformed into a deep forest).

The people of Shennongjia preserved the Epic of Darkness, a collection of tales and legends of primeval China in epic poetry.


  1. ^ a b 神农概况 [Shennong Overview] (in Simplified Chinese). Shennongjia People's Government. Retrieved 26 January 2019. 全区国土面积3253平方公里,下辖6镇2乡(松柏镇、木鱼镇、阳日镇、红坪镇、新华镇、九湖镇、宋洛乡、下谷乡)和三个正县级单位(林业管理局、国家级自然保护区管理局、国家湿地公园管理局)以及2个副县级单位(木鱼省级旅游度假区、盘水生态产业园区)
  2. ^ a b c d e 神农架林区历史沿革 [Shennongjia Forestry District Historical Development] (in Simplified Chinese). 6 August 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2019. 1970年5月28日,国务院批准设立神农架林区,以房县的盘水、上龛、九道3个区(15个公社、72个大队、311个生产队),和保康、兴山、巴东等县各一部分地区【本站注:共24个公社、2个药材场、1个农场】为其行政区域,驻木鱼坪。{...}2004年末,神农架林区面积3253平方千米,{...}2010年第六次人口普查,神农架林区常住总人口76140人,其中:松柏镇31207人,阳日镇10085人,木鱼镇9089人,红坪镇5901人,新华镇3688人,宋洛乡6609人,九湖乡3657人,下谷坪土家族乡5904人。 神农架林区现辖6个镇、2个乡:松柏镇、阳日镇、红坪镇、木鱼镇、新华镇、九湖镇、宋洛乡、下谷平土家族乡。
  3. ^ 湖北省统计局、国家统计局湖北调查总队 (August 2016). 《湖北统计年鉴-2016》. 中国统计出版社. ISBN 978-7-5037-7847-6. Archived from the original on 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Hubei Shennongjia". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 17 Apr 2021.
  5. ^ 2017年统计用区划代码和城乡划分代码:神农架林区 [2017 Statistical Area Numbers and Rural-Urban Area Numbers: Shennongjia Forestry District] (in Simplified Chinese). National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China. 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2019. 统计用区划代码 名称 429021100000 松柏镇 429021101000 阳日镇 429021102000 木鱼镇 429021103000 红坪镇 429021104000 新华镇 429021105000 九湖镇 429021200000 宋洛乡 429021202000 下谷坪土家族乡
  6. ^ Olson, David M.; Dinerstein, Eric; et al. (2001). "Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth". BioScience. 51 (11): 933–938. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0933:TEOTWA]2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0006-3568.
  7. ^ Shennongjia Nature Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage site)
  8. ^ a b c d What's wrong in Shennongjia? Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  9. ^ ZHAO, Chang-Ming; CHEN, Wei-Lie; TIAN, Zi-Qiang; XIE, Zong-Qiang (December 2005). "Altitudinal Pattern of Plant Species Diversity in Shennongjia Mountains, Central China". Journal of Integrative Plant Biology. Blackwell Publishing. 47 (12): 1431–1449. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7909.2005.00164.x. ISSN 1672-9072.
  10. ^ Ying, Jun-Sheng (2001). "Species diversity and distribution pattern of seed plants in China". Chinese Biodiversity. 9: 393–398.
  11. ^ a b c Number of golden monkeys doubled Archived 2012-11-02 at the Wayback Machine (Xinhua,, 2005-08-08)
  12. ^ Tong, Haowen; Wu, Xianzhu (2010). "Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis (Rhinocerotidae, Mammalia) from the Rhino Cave in Shennongjia, Hubei" (PDF). Chinese Science Bulletin. 55 (12): 1157–1168. Bibcode:2010ChSBu..55.1157T. doi:10.1007/s11434-010-0050-5. S2CID 67828905.
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  15. ^ "沿着高速看中国丨保神高速正式通车 湖北实现"县县通高速"-新华网". Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  16. ^ 神农架机场4月正式动工 从武汉起飞50分钟航程. Xinhua. Archived from the original on March 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-24.