Solid Environmental Safety Barriers

Updated: 2021-05-21 (Xinhua) Print

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is known as "the roof of the world" and "the water tower of Asia." Tibet is an important guarantor of China's environmental security. The Chinese government attaches great importance to eco-environmental protection in Tibet. It has made constant efforts to improve institutions, provide strong scientific and cultural support, and increase investment in this field, with the goal of building a community of life for humanity and nature.

Tibet's ecosystems are now generally stable. Environmental quality is improving, a green development model is in place, and eco-environmental rights and interests are more secure. "Clear waters and green mountains are invaluable assets, so is snow-covered land" – this concept is alive in people's hearts. Tibet has become one of the regions with the best eco-environment in the world.

– Making coordinated progress in improving the eco-environment

Shortly after liberation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences sent specialists to Tibet to survey the local ecology, geology and meteorology. The Chinese government organized two comprehensive scientific investigations on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in 1973 and 2017.

Since 2012, a number of regulations have been released to improve the system for monitoring and assessing the local eco-environment. These include Opinions on Strengthening Eco-environmental Protection and Pollution Prevention and Control, Opinions on Building a Beautiful Tibet, Opinions on Building National Ecological Culture Demonstration Areas to Boost Efforts for Building a Beautiful Tibet, and Regulations on Developing Ecological Highlands in the Tibet Autonomous Region. By 2020, Tibet had invested a total of RMB81.4 billion in this field.

A holistic approach to conserving mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, and grasslands has been adopted. The Plan for Protecting and Improving the Ecological Safety Barriers in Tibet (2008-2030) and the afforestation project in the watersheds of the Yarlung Zangbo River, Nujiang River, Lhasa River, Nianchu River, Yalong River, and Shiquan River have been implemented.

Work has been carried forward to build eco-environmental culture demonstration areas. Lhasa, Shannan, Nyingchi and Qamdo cities and Ngari Prefecture won national titles for their pioneering work, as did Bayi District of Nyingchi City, Yadong County and Damxung County. Lhunze County has become a base for practicing the concept that clear waters and green mountains are invaluable assets.

The efforts to conserve water and soil and control soil erosion have been increased. A river/lake responsibility system, where officials at different levels are assigned responsibility for the governance of specific rivers and lakes, has been rolled out, involving 14,800 officials at the regional, city, county, township and village levels. In addition, the cleanup campaign initiated in 2018 to regulate illegal riverside occupation, construction, mining and waste, has become a systematic and standard practice. Gar County was recognized for outstanding performance in this regard by the State Council General Office in 2020.

– Maintaining a good eco-environment

Tibet has 11 national nature reserves, 4 national scenic spots, 3 national geological parks, 9 national forest parks, and 22 national wetland parks. Protected natural areas make up almost 40 percent of the region's land area. Tibet has one comprehensive demonstration area for desertification control, and five closed-off protection zones of desertified land covering an area of 48,000 hectares. From 2004 to 2014, Tibet saw a fall of 92,400 hectares in desertification and a decline of 100,700 hectares in sandification. In 2020, the forest coverage reached 12.3 percent, the comprehensive vegetation coverage of natural grassland grew to 47 percent, and the wetland area totaled 6.53 million hectares.

Wild animals and their habitats are better protected. The population of black-necked cranes has increased from no more than 3,000 in the 1990s to more than 8,000, and the population of Tibetan antelopes is around 300,000. In the second survey of terrestrial wild animals, five new species including white-cheeked macaques were discovered, and another five species were found for the first time in China, including the Eastern Orphean Warbler. The second survey of wild plants showed that the number of giant cypress – under Class A national protection – has steadily increased and been effectively protected. The survey also found 21 species including Alsophila spinulosa and Taxus wallichiana Zuccarini in new sites.

The water quality of major rivers and lakes is generally good. Quality in both the Yarlung Zangbo River and Lake Namtso is up to Class II standard of the Environmental Quality Standards for Surface Water of China, and that of the Rongbuk River under Mount Qomolangma, Class I standard.

The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has been held stable in Tibet, bringing the soil to a natural state. In 2020, Tibet saw its average concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 declining by 28.1 and 37.5 percent respectively compared with 2015, and its days of good air quality fell just short of 100 percent.

– A green development model in place

Tibet is working to develop itself into a national clean energy base. By 2020, clean energy had contributed 89.1 percent of the installed power-generating capacity in Tibet. From 2015 to the end of 2020, 6.5 billion kwh of clean energy-generated electricity was transmitted, which greatly reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

A pilot national circular economy program has been carried out in Tibet, and efforts have been made to increase the utilization of kitchen waste. Solid wastes have been brought under strict regulation. The rate of safe domestic bio-waste disposal at or above the county level has reached 97.3 percent, and all medical waste requiring collection and treatment is collected and treated properly. The rate of urban sewage disposal grew from 50.2 percent in 2016 to 96.3 percent in 2020.

The initiative to build a beautiful countryside has advanced. Projects have been carried out to replace firewood with clean energy, build sufficient clean and safe toilets, improve living environments, and create green rural areas. A sound system to collect, transport and dispose of rural domestic sewage has been put in place.

A mechanism has been established to provide recompense for eco-protection of grasslands, forests and wetlands, and for damage caused by wild animals. From 2019 to 2020, RMB274 million was allocated in subsidies for selecting and recruiting 78,200 forest rangers, and RMB3.18 billion was granted as compensation and subsidies for forest protection, better ensuring people's eco-environmental rights and interests.

Campaigns have continued to encourage food saving and oppose food waste. Both urban and rural residents are more aware of the need to save water and electricity. New energy electric vehicles have grown in number. Green living is becoming part of everyday life.