According to Xinhua News Agency on August 22, since Tibet Autonomous Region was founded 40 years ago, it has successfully combined economic development with environmental protection, and its natural environment quality remains one of the best in the world.
It said that most forests, rivers, lakes, grasslands, marshes, glaciers, snow-covered mountains and wild plants and animals are well protected. Most lakes are pristine, never affected by humans, and industrial discharge is reduced each year, while there is no acid rain or any pollution accidents.
In July 1975, the leading environmental protection group in Tibet came into existence. At the beginning of the 1980s, the first environment monitoring station was set up there. At present, seven cities and some counties have corresponding stations.
Administrative environmental protection bodies have increased from one in 1975 to 72, and professional personnel have increased from three to over 370.
In 2003 the State Council Information Office released a white paper on ecological construction and environmental protection in Tibet. The same year, specific plans were approved by the regional government, and studies on ecological zoning were developed.
The headwaters of Yarlung Zangbo River have been approved as second-group state-level ecological reserves, a state-level pilot project in central Nagqu's grasslands has started, constructive projects in key nature reserves like Nam Co and Lalu Wetland have begun, and 16 prefecture-level or city-level reserves have been established.
Up to now, 17 nature reserves of different kinds have been founded, including one state-level.
Most pollution from key industrial areas has reached standard requirements, as the state has ordered the closure of 20 kinds of industrial plant from 1998 to 2004, resulting in the stoppage of nine cement producers, one indigenous refinery, one plastic processing factory, five small steel factories, four small paper mills and four borax processing factories.
In 2004, days where the atmosphere was categorized as "excellent" or "fine" in Tibet totaled 358.
The construction of key projects like the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway are supervised with the environmental protection in mind. From 1998 to 2004, the region's government has commissioned and responded to 420 reports on the environmental impact of construction programs.
The region has tried to adapt energy production to local conditions, developing hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind energy sources. Non-polluting sources have almost completely ended the use of burning cow dung, grass and wood for cooking and heating.
Up to the end of 2003, Tibet had established 15 nature reserves at region level or above (including seven state level), and 25 at prefecture and county level. The total area of reserves was 407,300 square kilometers.
A total of 125 state-level protected wild animals and 39 state-level protected wild plants and precious geologic sites are effectively protected.
(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing, September 5, 2005)