China launched its largest eco-project yesterday in Xining,
capital of Qinghai
Province in the northwest. The 5-year project, costing 7.5
billion yuan (US$926 million), is designed to protect the
eco-environment of Sanjiangyuan, the source of the country's three
major rivers, the Yangtze, Yellow River and Lancang River.
The launch ceremony, officiated by Zeng
Peiyan, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party
of China Central Committee and vice premier, was held during the
Sanjiangyuan Protection and Construction Project Launching
Conference on Wednesday in Xining, capital of northwest China's
The eco-project is the largest of its kind in terms of scale and
investment, and is also one of the hallmark projects of western
According to the overall plan, 3.13 billion yuan (US$380 million)
will be used to replenish 96.58 million mu (16 million acres) of
land traditionally used for grazing. Grazing will be prohibited for
five years after the replenishment works.
11.2 million yuan (US$1.38 million) has been earmarked for the
protection and restoration of 1.6 million mu (266,666
acres) of wetlands, and 52.3 million yuan (US$6.46 million) to
improve the 5.22-million-mu (870,000 acres) of deteriorating
It is hoped that a sustainable balance between environment and
social-economy will be achieved in Sanjiangyuan by 2020.
The project also includes infrastructure construction for local
farmers and herdsmen, and other ancillary programs.
Sanjiangyuan covers an area of 360,000 sq km on the Qinghai-Tibet
plateau and is home to about 590,000 people. Dubbed "China's Water
Tower", the area supplies 60 billion cubic meters of water to the
Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers every year.
Natural factors and human activity over the years have caused the
deterioration of the eco-environment in Sanjiangyuan, Song Xiuyan,
governor of Qinghai Province, said yesterday.
The quality of the area's grasslands has deteriorated, rats and
insects infest the place, and increased desertification worsens the
soil erosion problem and adds to the decrease in the area's
Shrinking glaciers and lakes, degenerating wetlands and fewer and
less efficient runoffs, which are essential for replenishing ground
water and headstream water sources, are also major issues.
"We can't afford to wait," said Vice Minister Du Ying of the
National Development and Reform Commission, who attended the
Project planners hope that their efforts will restore the
eco-environment of the plateau by 2010. It is hoped that, by that
time, some 1.3 billion cubic meters of source water will be
replenished, soil erosion reduced by 10.8 million tons, and runoffs
to the Yellow River up by 1.2 billion cubic meters.
Sanjiangyuan is the only plateau wetland eco-system in the world
and serves as ecological protective screen for west China,
which is why the project concerns the country's ecological
security, Vice Premier Zeng said.
Yet, Zeng reiterated that the project must work in line with
natural law, combining nature's ability to heal itself and man's
Also present at the launch ceremony were Wang Yang, deputy
executive secretary-general of the State Council; Wang Jinxiang,
vice director of the Western China Development Office; Suo Lisheng,
vice minister of Water Resources; and Zhang Lijun, vice president
of the State Environmental Protection Administration.
The comprehensive plan for the ecological protection and
construction of the region was approved at the 79th routine meeting
of the State Council in late January 2005.
(China.org.cn by Guo Xiaohong September 1, 2005)