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Tibet Still the Cleanest in China
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The local government of the Tibet Autonomous Region is to invest 78 million yuan (US$9.4 million) this year to protect the natural forests in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. About 80 percent of the funding will be from the central budget. The aim is to maintain Tibet's lead as China's cleanest area.

Various measures have been introduced to protect these natural forests. In January 1999 Tibet introduced a total ban on commercial logging in Markam, Gonjo and Jomda counties. Last year 948 Tibetan herdsmen were resettled from Gonjo County in the Qamdo Prefecture to the Nyingchi Prefecture where conditions are better. In the coming three years a further 10,000 local people will be relocated to protect the environment.

The project is styled "Preserve the Natural Forests." It involves initiatives to preserve virgin forests, schemes to close off hillsides to facilitate the return of the forests, timber planting, relocation programmes and forestry management.

Meanwhile, two forest parks, Sejila and Basong Lake, have been ratified as state-level forest parks. In addition, plans are in hand to upgrade Markam Yunnan Snub-nose Monkey Nature Reserve and Chayucibagou Nature Reserve to state-level nature reserves.

Eighteen state-level and autonomous region-level nature reserves have already been established in Tibet. They cover 330,000 square kilometers (127,380 square miles). This is no less than 27 percent of the total territory of the autonomous region. The bio-diversity of Tibet has been saved.

Tibet is valued as a "Green Treasury." Some 6,800 species of plants grow in Tibet. Thirty-nine of these are rare wild plants under the intensive protection of the state. There are 799 species of wild vertebrates of which 125 are classed as state-level, key protected wild animals, a third of the national total.

As one of China's cleanest cities, there was good-air-quality in Lhasa on a full 247 days last year. So many trees have now been planted that the oxygen content in the atmosphere has noticeably increased.

The largest ever eco-environmental preservation project in the history of Tibet was launched recently. The Tibetan government will invest 22.7 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion) over the next 20 years. It will involve no fewer than 160 separate initiatives to promote the protection and reinstatement of grasslands, natural forests and wildlife resources in Tibet.

Lhasa's 6.2 square kilometres ((2.4 square miles) Lalu Wetland has been listed as an autonomous region-level nature reserve. A preservation scheme with an investment of over 100 million yuan (US$12 million) has been launched. Recently as part of this input, the local environmental protection department has set up an automatic monitoring site to record temperature and humidity in the wetland.

Tibetan people are proactive in their respect for the natural environment. Thousands of black-necked cranes now inhabit a vast field of the eastern bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River. When tourists from home and abroad come to Zedang, they are captivated by the beauty of the scenery. When they get off their buses to take photographs of the cranes, an old Tibetan peasant from Jidexiu Town called Doje will come forward to remind them not to disturb the cranes. "Black-necked cranes are under the highest level of state protection. Villagers here feel a sense of obligation to protect them from being hurt or poached," said Doje.

According to the latest environmental bulletin, Tibet known as the roof of the world is amongst the least polluted zones in the world. Even though environmental pollution is getting worse at a global level, Tibet's plants show few signs of pollution with standards far above national levels. Acid rain and radioactive pollution have not yet been found in Tibet.

Many major Asian rivers have their headwaters on the Tibetan Plateau with its average elevation of over 4,000 meters. In addition, Tibet is thought to be both a "regulating zone" and a "trigger" for the weather of the Northern Hemisphere. All this leads specialists in the field to claim that protecting the eco-environment in Tibet is of great significance to the whole world.

(china.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, September 2, 2002)

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