The Three-River-Source, the place where the world famous Yangtse, Yellow and Lantsang originate, has seen an expansion of its lake-and-wetland and vegetation coverage since an ecological protection project was launched by China in 2005.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, ecological degradation of the alpine swamp meadow in the place is effectively curbed, and ecological environment markedly improved.
File photo shows barheaded gooses at a lake in the Sanjiangyuan (Three-River-Source) National Nature Reserve in west China's Qinghai Province. [Xinhua Photo]
Known as "China's water tower," the Three-River-Source lies in the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, covering an area of 360,000 km square.
In the late 20th century, affected by both climatic changes and human activities, it suffered a serious vegetation degradation and deteriorating ecological environment.
Survey by the Qinghai Meterological Administration shows, from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, vegetation in the alpine meadow along the upsteam of the Yellow River worsened markedly, with decreases in vegetation biomass, coverage and strain numbers of fine forage.
In 2005, the central government of China invested 7.5 billion yuan RMB in the project to protect and construct the ecological environment of the source area. Measures included ecological population relocation, grazeland-to-grassland restoration, launching animal husbandry where there is grass, and artificial rain, etc. After those moves, signs of improvement in ecological environment and vegetation gradually came forth.
Satellite monitoring shows that after the project was carried out, medium and high-coverage grassland has expanded. The high-coverage grassland was enlarged, from 2005 to 2008, by 23,050 km square, and the medium-coverage, 6,746 km square.
Meanwhile, the grassland with a grass yield less than 0.3 kg/m square decreased, and that with a grass yield between 200 to 600 kg climbed up notably, while grassland with yielding above 0.9 kg/m square doubled in acreage.
From data sent by remote sensing satellites, it's learned that the twin lakes by the Yellow River source -- Lake Zhaling and Lake Eling have expanded respectively by 34.05 km square and 46.32 km square.
As the natural conditions turn better, number of wildlife goes up rapidly accordingly. Flocks of Tibetan gazelles and Tibetan wild donkeys can often be spotted foraging and sporting on the alpine swamp meadows of the Three-River-Source area. Eagles, falcons, foxes and wolves are free from care everywhere in the region of Three-River-Source, now a paradise for wildlife.