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Core Areas: Alpine Peaks, Virgin Natural Environments, Home of Rare Flora and Fauna

The Minami Alps form a massive mountain landscape with many peaks over 3,000 m high. The topography and geology formed from upthrusts of the seabed is a valuable legacy of the birth of the Japanese archipelago. In addition, a diverse biota has formed from the bountiful rainfall and complex weather conditions. The Minami Alps are not only a treasure-house of alpine plants such as the Callianthemum honodense, but are also the world’s southernmost home for the Dwarf Stone Pine and the Rock Ptarmigan, which has been designated as a Special Natural Monument.

Mountain Landscapes

The geology of the Minami Alps is a combination of an accretionary wedge dating back to the Mesozoic, forming the Shirane and Akaishi Ranges, and granite forming the Kaikoma and Ho’o mountain systems. The formation of mountain ranges through uplift has been due to a very rapid rise in the crust over about the last million years, making them quite new in comparison to the age of the rocks themselves. In the central part of these mountains, the geological record shows that rocks formed on the seabed have been lifted up through crustal movements over a long period of time. In addition, the ongoing uplift movement and the temperate, wet climate have carved out deep valleys, creating landforms with a wealth of plant life.