The trend of a worsening ecology in the Sanjiang (Three Rivers) region in southwest China's Qinghai Province has slowed down considerably over the past few years thanks to the joint effort of central and local governments, said Zhao Xuemin, vice director of the State Forestry Administration in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on July 24.
The Sanjiang region, located in southwest China's Qinghai-Tibet plateau, gets its name from the fact it is the source of the Yangtze, the Yellow River and the Lancangjiang. It is also known as the "Chinese water tower."
The region has a natural wetland at the highest elevation in China. It also covers the largest area in the country.
Most important, it is home to many geological wonders and a natural environment of striking bio-diversity.
The Sanjiang Source Nature Reserve, was established by the State Forestry Administration and the government of Qinghai Province in May 2000. The Qinghai provincial management bureau for the nature reserve was founded a year and half later in September 2001.
In January 2003, it attained state-level status.
According to www.qhnews.com, a Qinghai Province news and information website, a 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.
Under the plan, the state will invest about 7.5 billion yuan (US$924.79 million) for this purpose.
Zhao said that, since 2003, a total of 1.23 billion yuan (US$151.67 million) has been invested in the region by central and local governments.
After the reserve was established, a comprehensive natural forest protection program was implemented, covering 117,458 hectares. Due to the severe soil erosion and water shortage in the region, all cultivated lands in frigid zones unsuitable for growing crops are included in the re-afforestation plan.
So far, a total of 84,709 hectares of land has been reforested, increasing land occupied by forests and brushwood by 20,000 hectares and 2.25 million hectares separately since 1998.
In addition, 2.73 million hectares of grasslands have been re-grassed and put under ecological migration programs: 1.39 million hectares are closed off to grazing, and 13,000 hectares lands are covered by a seasonal grazing ban. These measures have effectively reduced the pressures on the grasslands.
The area of eroded soil under the control of the program currently stands at 544,000 hectares. The volume of sand, silt and sediment flowing into the Yellow River annually has been reduced by 10 percent on average.
Wildlife has also flourished as a result. The number of black-necked cranes in the region has increased by about 100 pairs since 1987. Tibetan wild donkeys have increased in number from about 80,000 to 100,000, Tibetan antelopes from 18,500 to 32,000, and wild yaks from 9,500 to 60,000 between 1998 and 2004.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong August 1, 2005)