Decades-long environmental drive yields results in Tibet
2015/04/15

LHASA, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Karma Ngodrup's childhood memories are painted yellow.

"When I was little, the grass fodder behind our house was always buried in yellow sand, and our firewood was often blown away by strong sandstorms," said Ngodrup, a resident of Chanang County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

These days, however, what was once a blurred, sandy sight in the small county has become a clear and pleasant view, as lush green forests cover the mountains thanks to government efforts.

Tibet's environment has seen significant improvement after a decades-long ecological protection drive emphasizing afforestation efforts and new energy promotion.

For years, human activity has threatened the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau and accelerated desertification in the region, making environmental protection in Tibet an urgent task.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Chinese government has taken a variety of measures to tackle environmental issues, including creating state-level nature reserves, launching key ecological projects as well as issuing relevant laws and regulations.

Those measures have prevented or controlled desertification of at least 1.62 million mu (108,000 hectares) of land so far, effectively sheltering residents in the region and in neighboring countries from sandstorms.

"It's hard for me to describe the huge comparison," Ngodrup said of the changes.

But that is only part of the government's work. According to freshly published data, the regional government pumped a total of 18.52 billion yuan (2.98 billion U.S. dollars) in funds to help ramp up local ecological protection from 2004 to 2014.

Water conservation in the forests, plains and wetlands of the Tibet Plateau stood at 91 billion cubic meters between 2008 and 2012, an increase of 1.01 percent compared to 1990 and 2008, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

"Better water conservation guarantees sufficient water flow for international waterways that run through Tibet while improving the ecosystem," said Dawa Tsering, an ecology expert with Tibet's regional CAS.

The Tibet government also has promoted the use of electricity, methane and solar power among local villagers. With new energy sources taking the place of animal waste and firewood, the damage to the eco-system has been minimized.

Additionally, 100 million yuan will be given out each year as part of a reward-and-punishment mechanism to encourage environmental protection, a regional guideline stipulated in 2014.

"We are taking environmental protection seriously and will continue to do so by severely punishing anyone violating environmental laws and regulations," Jiang Bai from Tibet's regional department of environmental protection said on Tuesday.

According to Jiang, in certain areas of Tibet, an ecological "red line" will be drawn within which development will be strictly controlled. He added that the local environmental regulation will be revised to adapt to new situations.

"With the protection efforts, some 2 billion people in Asia will benefit in the long run," Jiang said.

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