Park brings clean water to nation's major rivers
China Daily

A black wolf is photographed at the Three-River-Source National Park, Qinghai province, last year. (File photo: China Daily)

China's first national park pilot-the Three-River-Source National Park-has effectively curbed the degradation of its environment and protected its ecology, an official from local authority revealed recently.

The park in Qinghai province is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. The park's environment is crucial to water quality of most regions in China.

Covering more than 123,000 square kilometers, the park has faced environmental degradation due to climate change and human activities since the 1970s.

In 2016, the State Council approved a proposal to establish a pilot for the national park system, which is scheduled to be officially inaugurated in 2020.

According to a recent report released by the park's management committee, the grassland vegetation cover had increased by 27 percent last year compared to 2017.

"Water quality has also been improved significantly in recent years, while many types of vegetation in the park have been increasing and the ecological environment has become better," said He Baoyuan, deputy director of the committee.

In the past three years, the water quality of the Yangtze River in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture has remained high enough to qualify as drinking water, He said.

Before the establishment of the pilot, environmental protection in the region was handled by several government departments in 12 counties and towns.

Since 2016, the committee led the reform and drafted the country's first national park management plan, which helped to rearrange responsibilities in different sectors and improved the management system significantly.

Moreover, a proposed regulation for Three-River-Source National Park's management has also been in practice since 2016. As China's first regulation on national park management, it guaranteed the efficiency of protection work in the park.

Also, local herdsmen are encouraged to return their lands to nature and resettle in urban areas to preserve the grasslands and reduce environmental degradation caused by grazing. To encourage more residents to take part in environmental protection, the local government has combined this goal with poverty alleviation and trained one person from each family to be ecological conservationists.

Statistics from the park's managing authorities show that 17,211 ecological conservationists are now working in the park, bringing in annual income of about 21,600 yuan ($3,050) to each family.

As the environmental status advances, the wildlife population increases. Last year, a rare black wolf was photographed for the first time in the park.

Xie Yan, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology, said the image is of great significance to the study of wolf species since few reports documented them in China. "It shows our ecology has improved," she said.

In order to better protect the local environment with modern technologies, He from the committee said, the park has cooperated with universities and research institutes to conduct scientific research in recent years.

In 2015, the park launched a field conservation station with Peking University and Shanshui Conservation Center in Namsei village in Yushu, and carried out a series of activities ranging from wildlife monitoring to community training and nature watch projects.

"We will deepen the reform and encourage more cross-border exchanges with experts overseas, aiming to learn from the experiences of other countries and achieve sustainable development." He said.