Full Text: Ecological Progress on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a white paper titled Ecological Progress on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau on Wednesday.

China SCIOUpdated: July 18, 2018

III. Steady Improvement of Environmental Quality

The central and local governments have carried out a number of environmental protection projects for comprehensive improvement of river basins, improvement of urban and rural living conditions, and prevention and control of pollution from factories and mines. As a result, the environmental quality and living conditions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have steadily turned better.

Quality of the water environment has kept improving.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is where a number of Asia's largest rivers see their headwaters; it is one of the regions under the strictest water resource management and water environment protection in China. The state has reinforced protection on the Plateau with a set of key measures including: compiling comprehensive planning for major water bodies, demarcating the functional zones of rivers and lakes, clearly defining the functions of water bodies and the goals of water quality protection, determining the pollution accommodating capacity of major rivers and lakes and the total volume of discharges allowed, and introducing a strictest system of water resource management. A system of assessment quotas has been established at three administrative levels – province (autonomous region), prefecture (city) and county (district) – as a measure to promote water environment protection and restoration and ensure the security of water ecology on the Plateau.

During the 12th Five-year Plan period, the state spent RMB25.31 billion on Plateau projects related to rural drinking water, water and soil conservation, and water conservation on pasture land, providing safe drinking water to 4.57 million farmers and herdsmen, and building water supply facilities for 1,400 monasteries. Drinking water is now safe in areas where local water has high fluoride and arsenide levels, tastes bitter and salty or is highly polluted, and in places that are seriously short of water. In 2014, the state invested RMB478 million in the environmental improvement and ecological restoration projects of Namco, Yamzho Yumco, Keluke Lake and the lakes at the source of the Yellow River. In recent years, a total of 1,730 sq km of land have been saved from soil erosion due to the effort invested in small river basin ecological improvement and

hillside land soil conservation. Thanks to the ecological protection endeavors at the source of three large rivers, the Qinghai Lake and the Qilian Mountains, 60 billion cu m of quality water is supplied to downstream areas every year. At present, the major rivers and lakes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are basically in their original natural conditions with good water quality.

Soil functions have been effectively enhanced.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is one of the least polluted areas on earth, and the soil environment is overall in its original environmental background state. The soil types and the heavy metal element content are determined by the property of parent rocks and climatic conditions, and little impacted by human activities. The content of copper, nickel, lead and other heavy metals in the local lake deposits is lower than those of lake deposits in places more frequented by humans. The heavy metal content in the arable soils is lower than the national standards for soil of Grade I.

Along with the implementation of ecological and environmental protection measures, the ecological functions of the local soils have been effectively enhanced. Over the last 50 years, the carbon storage in China's grassland soils has displayed a tendency of undulating increase, with the grasslands on the Plateau contributing the most (63.1 percent) and the inorganic carbon pool in the soils three meters under the alpine grasslands accounting for 70 percent of the national total. The annual water conservation volume is 345 billion cu m. Following the completion of phase I of the Sanjiangyuan ecological protection and construction project, the annual water conservation volume of the forest and grassland ecosystems has increased by 15.6 percent, and fencing the forests has also contributed to improvement in the organic carbon, moisture and micro-organics content in the soils.

Air environment has maintained good quality.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has a low intensity of human activity. The air quality is little impacted, the types of pollutants are few and the density is low, and the content of pollutants is similar to those at the North Pole. With the promotion of use of green energy, the progress in building ecological towns, and efforts to improve rural environment, the air quality on the Plateau has seen further improvement. Of the 96 key cities whose annual density of particles met relevant standards in 2016, 16 were located on the Plateau. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is still one of the cleanest regions on earth.

Living environment has notably improved.

The state has spent some RMB6.3 billion since 2009 on domestic sewage and waste disposal projects and sewage conduits in the towns of Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province and the Tibetan-inhabited towns in Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu provinces, leading to a significant increase in local disposal capacity. Since the 12th Five-year Plan period, the state has invested RMB5.45 billion improving the rural environment on the Plateau. Of this sum, RMB349 million went to Tibet, 1.63 billion to Sichuan, 1.45 billion to Yunnan, 899 million to Gansu, and 1.12 billion to Qinghai.

The Tibet Autonomous Region has worked to improve the living conditions of urban and rural communities and address problems related to garbage classification, noise pollution, sewage discharge, and straw burning. Since 2010, it has allocated RMB11.82 billion for the improvement of living conditions in more than 5,261 villages, and introduced long-term mechanisms for rural environment management and protection. Since 2008, Qinghai Province has allocated RMB1.74 billion of special funds for the environmental improvement of over 3,015 villages and settlements of nomadic people, benefiting 2.2 million people – 76 percent of its rural population. In 2014, Qinghai started a beautiful village project, in which it had invested RMB10.77 billion by the end of 2017. Today, the rate of urban domestic sewage disposal has reached 78 percent and domestic waste bio-safety disposal 96.69 percent, and the living conditions have been notably improved in cities and towns. The Garze Prefecture of Sichuan Province has carried out a three-year action to address waste and sewage problems, and directed RMB275 million of local government special bond funds into new urbanization efforts. By the end of 2017, the Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province had invested RMB585 million in sewage and waste disposal facilities. The Deqen Prefecture of Yunnan Province has prohibited the sale, supply and usage of non-degradable plastic products in the areas under its jurisdiction, and achieved marked progress in water, soil and air pollution control. The Gannan Prefecture of Gansu Province has spent RMB5.25 billion creating 703 "well-off villages" with a pleasant ecological environment, ending up in improving their infrastructure, public services, and social security.

<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  >