The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched a major wetland protection campaign involving China and five other Asian nations.
The campaign, the largest ever started by the world's leading non-governmental environmental protection organization, aims to protect wetlands along the Yangtze, China's longest river, and the Lancang River, which is popularly known as the Mekong River outside China.
It will focus on wetlands on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau -- "Asia's water tower" where seven major rivers originate, and address diverse environmental issues including deforestation, water pollution and the decline of highland glaciers.
Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam are also involved in the campaign, which is reputed as "wetland ambassador campaign 2004", according to sources attending a recent launch ceremony in Nanchang, capital of the eastern Jiangxi Province.
The wetland ambassador campaign was initiated by WWF in 2001 to raise public awareness of wetland preservation and eco-system protection. This year's campaign is co-sponsored by China's Ministry of Forestry and carries the theme "river of life -- from mountains to oceans".
College students and non-governmental organizations are encouraged to take part in the campaign, and nearly 60 Chinese schools have submitted online applications to date.
Dubbed "kidneys of the earth", wetlands are extension areas of land and water, including lakes, swamps and tidelands. They play a crucial role in storing water, adjusting climate, alleviating pollution and preventing and controlling soil erosion and flooding.
China has more than 65.9 million hectares of wetland, the fourth largest area in the world, accounting for 10 percent of the world's total.
(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2004)