A comprehensive project, aiming at saving the Tianchi Lake or the Heavenly Pond, in the Tianshan Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has recently been launched. Upon its completion, the ecological situation in the area will improve remarkably. Included in the plan are actually three sub-projects:
First of all, a 26-million-yuan dam (US$3.14 million) will be constructed to prevent floods and landslides in the upper reaches of the lake, while a water diversion channel is being built to decrease silt flow.
Secondly, 15 million yuan (US$1.81 million) will be invested to develop 1,000 hectares of artificial grasslands at scenic spots around the lake. Meanwhile, the local government will ban grazing in the mountain's forests and persuade herdsmen living in the upper reaches to move their homes down the mountain.
Thirdly, honey-leaf trees and elm trees will be widely planted to carry out an ecological recovering project of 14 million yuan (US$1.7 million).
Tianchi, or the Heavenly Pond, is dubbed "the Pearl of the Tianshan Mountains." The lake of 4.9 square kilometers abounds with wildlife and other natural resources. "However, in the past decades," said Zhu Yunchuan, director of the Tianchi Nature Reserve Administration, "farming, tourism and lumber trade have made the area's coverage of forests and grasslands reduce rapidly, resulting in frequent floods and landslides. The water area of the lake has shrunk too."
Water on the lake's southern bank has retreated 18 meters since 1992 and its depth has dropped to 80 meters from 100 meters 10 years ago. A grassland of more than seven hectares on the lake's southern bank is suffering desertification and may become a barren land soon.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong May 13, 2004)