China’s first national park in Northwest China’s Sanjiangyuan area, covering a total area of 123,100 square kilometers, will be officially established in 2020 on schedule.
Sanjiangyuan literally means “the source of three rivers.” The environment had previously deteriorated due to climate changes and human activities such as overgrazing.
Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Sanjiangyuan, known as the sources of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers, is home to hundreds of species of wild animals, many of which are under state protection, such as wild yaks, snow leopards, Tibetan antelopes and Tibetan gazelles. It is also the world’s highest nature reserve with an average altitude of 4,700 meters.
Qinghai Province issued guidelines for promoting the establishment of Sanjiangyuan National Park on May 9, which include the comprehensive deployment and systematic arrangement for the preliminary work of promoting the official establishment of the park, said He Wancheng, the head of the administration bureau of Sanjiangyuan National Park, on Wednesday.
The national park is the country’s calling card, and unlike nature reserves, which protect unique species, national parks emphasize the protection of the entire ecosystem, Li Junsheng, a deputy director of the research center for eco-environmental science at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences in Beijing, told Global Times on Thursday.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where the national park is located, is a major ecological barrier in China. The establishment of the Sanjiangyuan National Park is of great significance to the security of water resources and the protection of rare animals and plant species, and also marks the standardization of how natural reserves are managed in China, Li said.
The general office of China’s State Council released the guideline on the establishment of a natural reserve system with national parks at the center in 2019, ensuring that natural ecosystems and biological diversity are protected in a systematic way, and national ecological security is safeguarded.
Under the national park management, herders and farmers will be turned into the forces of environmental protection at Sanjiangyuan area. The work is expected to provide jobs, boost incomes and give people an incentive to protect the environment.
Sanjiangyuan National Park is expected to become a role model of eco-protection, innovative mechanism and modernization by the end of 2035, media reported.
The ecological environment of the Sanjiangyuan area has greatly improved in recent years, with ecological and water conservation functions consolidated, and wetland areas expanded.
The grassland coverage of the area has risen to 11 percent and grass output jumped 30 percent compared with the last decade. The number of wild animals also saw a significant increase, as the number of Tibetan antelope surpassed 70,000 at present from less than 20,000 in the 1980s.
China began to establish the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve in Qinghai in 2000. The pilot trial operation of Sanjiangyuan National Park began in 2016, and official construction started in 2018.