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Environmentalist urges green reconstruction
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Renowned Chinese environmentalist Yang Xin has called for an environmentally friendly reconstruction of regions hit by the May 12 Sichuan quake and is proceeding with plans to build a nature preservation center in the province.

"In addition to scientists' suggestions, we also need anthropologists to help us rebuild the environment in quake-hit areas," Yang said.

Traditions of local communities in these areas should be respected, as their customs and daily life form part of the ecological system, Yang said.

Yang said he was deeply impressed by the province's beautiful scenery during a research trip long before the quake devastated areas.

Yang, the founder of the Suonandajie Nature Protection Station, a private nature preservation center for protecting ecological systems in Qinghai province, is planning to build a second station in Sichuan.

Established in 1997, the first station was initially designed to be a base to help Tibetan antelopes.

Yang has been selecting an area in the upper reaches of the Minjiang River in Sichuan for six years, for the second station.

"This area is outstanding in its geological, biological and cultural diversity," Yang said.

Located between the Sichuan Basin and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the area's altitude rises from 500m to 4,500m within the 200 km distance between them.

The region's vegetation ranges from primary forest to alpine meadows, which endows the area with many kinds of plants amid mountains and waterways, while the Aba and Miyaluo areas have long been famous tourist sites.

These areas also accommodate Tibetan and Qiang ethnic people, who have unique cultures including the famous castles of the Qiang.

After the establishment of Suonandajie Nature Protection Station at the source of the Yangtze River, Yang has been looking for the opportunity to promote environment protection in the other areas of the river's upper reaches. The Minjiang River, as an important branch of the Yangtze, nurtures the Chengdu Plain including Chengdu, Deyang, Pengzhou, as well as the main irrigation source that is Sichuan Basin.

Considering the importance of this branch and the diversity of the area, Yang embarked on a plan in 2001 to build the second natural protection station to protect its ecological systems.

He decided to build the second station in Yueliangdi, a tract of highland 10 km west of Yingxiu, a town badly hit by the quake.

Yueliangdi has since been submerged in a lake formed by the earthquake.

"The preparation of the station is still ongoing, but it may be delayed at least one year," said Yang.

The station will focus on enhancing people's awareness and expertise of environmental protection, Yang said.

It will have a botanical garden, a green agriculture experimental zone, wastewater and solid treatment facilities, and an education center.

Yang said he hopes the station will be an ideal place to educate the young on the environment and give them an opportunity to learn how to love and protect nature.

(China Daily June 13, 2008)

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