China plans to set up a huge nature reserve in a bid to protect the sources of its three major rivers -- the two longest, the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, and the Lancang River, officials have said in Xining, capital of northwestern Qinghai province.
Li Ruofan, director of the nature reserve administration, said Tuesday that the Chinese central government, the State Council, approved a plan earlier this year to establish the reserve in the Qinghai province.
The proposed reserve would cover some 152,300 square kilometers, the director said. The move was designed to curb land degradation in the area, and protect the endangered wildlife, biodiversity and ecology.
The sources of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers are all located in vast Qinghai province, in an area covering 318,000 sq km.
The environment in this region has deteriorated in the past four decades due to prolonged drought, excessive farming and overgrazing, resulting in depleted lakes and wetlands, soil erosion, and a drastic drop in the endangered wildlife populations.
The whole project would cost a combined investment of 2.52 billion yuan (about US$307 million), the director said.
The proposed reserve will comprise six areas, including the river sources, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and virgin forests and vegetation along these rivers.
Animal farming would be restricted to a 31,200 sq km area within the reserve, and substantial efforts would be made to restore vegetation in some areas, and conserve wetlands and wildlife habitats, the director said.
Moreover, intensive drives would be launched to check forest and grassland fires, improve the awareness of locals concerning environmental protection and promote community development.
(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2003)