CHINA is expected to launch a new programme starting next year to improve the deteriorating ecological situation in the areas cradling the Yangtze River, Yellow River and the Lancang-Mekong River, which flows to the South China Sea through Vietnam.
The programme was nailed down following a recent meeting convening Chinese central government officials, as well as water, environment and forestry experts for schemes to protect and develop ecological resources in the riverhead areas.
The cradleland, located in the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an average altitude of 4,000m above sea level, covers an area of 363,000 sq km in the southern part of northwestern Qinghai province, which is home to 16 counties and Tanggula township under three Tibetan autonomous prefectures.
The crisscross of rivers and lakes, along with ice-capped mountains and glaciers, earn the cradleland the reputation of kidney of the earth for its great capacity to retain water resources, resist flooding and dry spells, relieve pollution, and keep in existence the biodiversity.
However, global warming, growing population and excessive human activities have resulted in water erosion and shrinkage in grassland and biodiversity in the areas.
A natural zone for resources protection, which was set up in 2000 at a joint effort of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Qinghai provincial government, was developed in early 2003 into a national preservation zone covering 152,300 sq km, nearly half the cradle areas.
The new programme to take effect next year will focus efforts on grass growth by grazing limitation, wetland protection, cloud seeding, and energy development in areas inhabited by grazers. China Daily.