A wetland in Maqu County of northwest China's Gansu Province has been put under better protection for its crucial role in conserving water for the Yellow River whose dry period has been increasing in recent years.
Situated in the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an average altitude of 3,600 meters, Maqu County is where the second longest river in China takes its first curve.
The 433-km curve usually can increase the river's water volume by 45 percent, said Hua Erbao, deputy head of the Maqu Animal Husbandry Bureau, who attributed most of the water hike to the "First Curve Wetland", an important part of the Zoige Wetland.
According to Hua, the Gansu provincial government has mapped out a number of measures since the early 1990s to prevent the wetland drying up, including the treatment of grassland and controlling the number of livestock.
Currently, a total of 10 million yuan (about US$1.20 million) has been jointly invested by the Global Fund of the United Nations and the Gansu Provincial Government to secure the sustained development of the wetland.
To date, over 125 technicians with special expertise have been trained on how to monitor the ecological health of the wetland dubbed as the "Water Pool" of the Yellow River.
Ma Chongyu, director of the province's Wildlife and Natural Protection Bureau, said, "Owing to these efforts, some areas of the wetland have a water storage as deep as one meter."
Improved local ecology also turns the land into a wildlife paradise. Currently, more than 31 kinds of rare wildlife and 400 kinds of wild plants under state protection reside there.
Earlier this year, the upper reaches of the Yellow River was at its lowest level in 50 years because of sustained drought and decreasing precipitation.
According to statistics, the river dried up for 129 days in 1996 and for 222 days in 1997. The record dry season water level affected people's daily lives and industrial and agricultural production of regions along the river.
Therefore, both the government and scientists have called for a unified control of water resources in a scientific way to reduce the possibility of the river dry-ups.
The river with a total length of 5,464 kilometers originates in northwest China's Qinghai Province and travels east through nine provinces and autonomous regions before emptying into the Yellow Sea.
(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2003)