Tianchi Lake, an alpine lake and hot tourism spot located in the Xinjiang
Uygur Autonomous Region, is to undergo a four-year restoration project.
According to local officials, due to human activity the southern bank of the
lake has moved 18 metres closer towards the lake's centre and the depth of the
lake decreased from an average 100 metres to 80 metres since 1992.
As a result, some 6.7 hectares of the grassland on the southern bank have
turned into sand.
"The lake has been getting smaller and it will dry out some 80 years if
protection doesn't begin now," said Gao Feng, director of Tianchi Nature Reserve
Forest Protection Office.
As a preliminary effort in the restoration and protection project,
businessmen, residents and herdsmen have been moved out of the major scenic
spots of the Tianchi tourism area and relocated, Zhang Zhende, secretary of the
Party committee of Mokang, where the lake is located, told China News Service.
Residential, husbandry and catering services will be kept away from the
scenic area after the restoration to prevent further degradation of the
environment, said Zhang.
The plan for the restoration was recently approved by the Ministry of
Construction and got an 800 million yuan (US$100 million) investment from the
central government, Zhang added.
According to the plan, after the project is finished in 2010, the tourism
area around the lake will be enlarged from the present 158 square kilometres to
548 square kilometres.
Tianchi, located some 110 kilometres from Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang
Uygur Autonomous Region, is famous as a rare scenic spot on Tianshan Mountain.
The lake was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1990.
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