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Headstreams of Asian Rivers Under Protection

As a focus region with the headstreams of many rivers in Asia, Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China has made considerable effort to protect its ecological environment.

Danzim, deputy secretary of the Tibet Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that most forests, rivers, lakes, grasslands, swamps, glaciers, snow mountains and wildlife in the region are well protected by joint efforts from related departments and ethnic people.

According to the official, Tibet has set up 13 nature reserves, covering an area of 380,000 square kilometers or one-third of the region's total land area.

At the same time, more than 50 natural protection centers for terrestrial heat, lava and hot springs have been established across the region.

Tibet is famous for its complex climates, geographic changes and diversified wildlife.

Statistics show that Tibet has more than 6,400 kinds of plants, including 30 species in danger of extinction.

Tibet also has 2,300 species of wild animals, including 140 species under state or region-level protection.

In recent years, Tibet carried out a series of environmental protection and improvement projects on soil erosion control, water conservancy, desertification prevention, grassland building, forest preservation and afforestation.

During the ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), Tibet completed an afforestation area of 41,000 hectares.

Since 1991, the region invested over 900 million yuan to conduct many agricultural development projects on major river drainage areas.

"These projects have greatly helped the region deal with the environmental problems of soil erosion and desertification," the official said.

In addition, Tibet has adopted various pollution-free energy sources, including solar energy and hydropower-related energy, to save biological energy sources.

So far, Tibet has formed a comprehensive network on natural resources and ecological systems of rare plants, wild animals, natural forest, swamps and grasslands.

Qiangtang Natural Reserve, the largest of its kind in the world, covers an area of 300,000 square kilometers. Hundreds of thousands of Tibetan antelope, wild yaks, Tibetan donkeys and other wild animals are living in the reserve.

Besides Qiangtang, a nature reserve on the Yaluzangbu Daxiagu, the world's largest river canyon astride the Yarlung Zangbo River, is abundant in plants and rare wild animals.

The Everest Nature Reserve is a typical area of snow mountains in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Lalu Swamp Nature Reserve, the largest urban marsh area in China, is able to regulate the climate in surrounding areas and provide a large amount of oxygen for Lhasa, capital of Tibet.

In Linzhou County, the Pengbo Natural Reserve has become a large winter habitat for black-neck cranes, attracting about 8,000 black-neck cranes every year.

The number of the black-neck cranes in the reserve accounts for three-fourths of the total in the world. The black-neck crane is a rare bird that inhabits tablelands. Its tall and beautiful figure makes it popular for bird-watching and scientific research.

In China, it can only be seen in remote areas of Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

According to a plan released recently on Tibetan environment protection, Tibet will invest 22.7 billion yuan (US$2.73 billion) in the next 50 years in implementing 160 key environment protection projects.

The projects will target environment protection in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, construction of ecological agriculture, desert control in meadows, soil-erosion control in eastern Tibet and protection of grassland and forests.

Environmental protection is an important part of the country's development plan in the western region, Danzim said. Tibet will focus its efforts on protecting the natural environment and carry out measures to ban illegal logging on natural forests, stop the hunting of wild animals, reduce mining pollution and supervise management in tourism sites.

(Eastday. com 11/01/2000)

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