via China Daily/Straits Times, 19 September 2023: The Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in China’s Pu’er city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becoming China’s 57th entry and the first related to tea. This heritage site includes well-preserved old tea forests, protective barrier forests, and ancient villages inhabited mainly by the Blang and Dai ethnic groups. The local cultivation techniques have created an ideal environment for tea growth, producing organic tea leaves without pesticides.
On the basis of longstanding practices, the local people developed the understorey growing technique, which involves allowing shrubs or trees that are small and sufficiently shade-tolerant to thrive under the canopies of taller trees.
The local people created ideal light conditions for growing tea trees, and prevented insect infestation through a well-preserved forest ecosystem, thereby producing quality organic tea leaves without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
During its 45th session, the Unesco World Heritage Committee noted that the region bears “an exceptional testimony to the understorey tea cultivation traditions”, which have enabled the “development of a complementary spatial distribution of different land uses, providing ecosystems and microclimates that support both the cultivation of old tea forests and the well-being of communities residing in this organically evolved cultural landscape”.