China has launched a major project in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to safeguard the headwaters of the country's three major rivers, the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Lancang River.
Within five years, 150 million Mu (10 million hectares) of pasture will be restored in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in Qinghai Province.
At an average altitude of 4,000 meters, the two prefectures are the source of China's three major rivers. About 25 percent of the water resources of the Yangtze River, 49 percent of the Yellow River and 15 percent of the Lancang River originate from the source.
However, the areas have observed an ecosystem degeneration in recent years due to global warming, increasing population and excessive herding.
The three-river headwater area covers over 300,000 square kilometers, about half of Qinghai Province's total area, and has a most vulnerable ecosystem, said Wang Xiangguo, a senior expert on pasture with the Qinghai provincial office in charge of the project.
The government will provide preferential policies and pay subsidies to the herders who are willing to move out of the three- river headwater area, Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 26, 2003)