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China plans hefty investment for ecological conservation in Tibet
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The Chinese government plans to invest more than 20 billion yuan (2.8 billion U.S. dollars) to protect the ecological system of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during the 2006-2030 period.

Fourteen conservation projects will be launched, covering natural grassland and wildlife protection, the establishment of nature reserves, the control of desertification and soil erosion, and geological disasters prevention, said Zhang Yongze, director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Department of Environment Protection.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau boasts a unique eco-system due to its climate and geography.

Tibet, with its biological diversity, is a major gene bank ensuring global biodiversity. However, the eco-system is very fragile and has difficulty recovering after being damaged.

"The government has always attached great importance to ecological conservation in the plateau region by allocating significant funding in this regard," Zhang said.

In the 2001-2005 period, he said, the central government put about 120 million yuan into protecting the Lhalu wetland -- the highest and biggest urban wetland in the world situated in the regional capital, Lhasa -- the nature reserve of the sacred Namco Lake and grasslands in Nagqu Prefecture, in addition to hefty investment in other areas.

"We have also banned exploitation of some mineral resources to avoid damaging the eco-system in Tibet," Zhang said.

Following the freezing of the mining of gold dust from Jan. 1, 2006, the regional government has prohibited the exploitation of iron sand from Jan. 1 this year, he said.

Local environment authorities would focus their efforts on pollution and radiation control, rural environment protection, and improvement of environment monitoring and law enforcement systems this year, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2008)

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