China's first national park,
the Potatso National Park, was inaugurated on Thursday in Shangri-La, an area
famous for its natural beauty in the southwest province of Yunnan.
The 2,000 square-km national park covers 17 percent of Diqing, an autonomous
prefecture mainly inhabited by Tibetans. Its centerpiece sceneries are
crystal-clear lakes, undulating mountains and gurgling streams.
The local government started mapping out the park since early last year and
has spent more than 200 million yuan (26.3 million U.S. dollars) on bolstering
ecological tourism in the well-preserved national park.
"By establishing the Potatso national park, China has taken the first step in
blending tourism development with nature protection, " said Song Yinxiu, head of
the park's administrative bureau.
Now about 69 km of blacktop roads have been built in two major scenic spots,
the Shudu Lake and Bita Lake, in Potatso. The roads also serve as fire
Plank roads stretch 10 km along the mirror-like lakes to protect the
Seven solar-energy powered public toilets and shuttle buses consuming clean
energy are also used in the park to minimize pollution.
During the past ten months of trial operational, the national park received
600,000 visitors. More than half of the revenue from ticket sales went to
The world's first national park, Yellow Stone National Park, was established
in the United States in 1872. Now there are more than 9,800 national parks
around the world.