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Academician wants national park built in Tibet

By PALDEN NYIMA and DAQIONG in Lhasa | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-03-21 09:59
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Aerial photo of peach blossoms along the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, April 1, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Zhao Jindong, a national political adviser and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has proposed the establishment of a national park at the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon in the Tibet autonomous region.

The establishment of a national park would have a great impact on the construction of ecological civilization, the maintenance of environmental security and the promotion of the harmonious coexistence between man and nature, Zhao proposed during this year's session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which ended earlier this month.

The Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world. With a total length of about 500 kilometers, its altitude spans from 7,782 meters at Namchak Barwa, the highest peak of the eastern Himalayas, to 550 meters around the Yarlung Zangbo River Valley in Metog county.

It is of great strategic significance to intensify the investigation and research of biodiversity in the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and to establish a national park in the area as soon as possible, Zhao said.

Places along the middle and lower reaches of the river are rich in biodiversity, and the region is known as a natural vegetation museum.

"It is also one of the areas with the most abundant species of ungulates and carnivores in China or even worldwide, and this region is also a stable habitat for some endangered species, including tigers, leopards, red gorals and dhole (a wild dog species)," said Zhao, adding it is also the only confirmed habitat of the Bengal tiger in China.

Zhao said a national park with a land area of more than 40,000 square kilometers would consist of all of Metog and parts of the counties of Bomi, Manling, Nang and Nyingchi in Tibet's Nyingchi city.

In addition, in order to protect the area's irreplaceable biodiversity and the integrity and authenticity of its natural landscape-especially concerning the connectivity between the habitat and populations of some rare species, including the Bengal tiger, giant cypress trees, the clouded leopard and the rufous-necked hornbill-Zhao suggested that the boundary and zoning of the national park be scientifically delimited on the basis of a full investigation and understanding of the region's biodiversity and socioeconomic data.

"Any human activities and development construction related to the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin should follow the principle of giving priority to environmental protection, adhere to the strictest protection measures, and stick to the concept of green development," Zhao said.

Ao Liuquan, Party secretary of Nyingchi city and a CPPCC National Committee member, said the city placed great emphasis on environmental protection during this year's two sessions in Beijing.

"We adhere to the systematic management of mountains, rivers, forests, fields, lakes, grass, sand and glaciers, and we make sure to keep the city's skies, waters and lands unpolluted," he was quoted as saying by Tibetan media.

Ao said the city has had good air quality every day for four years, topping the nation's 337 cities of prefecture level and above during that period.

"We also helped local residents benefit financially while engaging in environmental protection work," he said. "In 2021 alone, the city's financial bureau allocated more than 270 million yuan ($42 million) for forest protection. Also, more than 18 million yuan has been spent on the salaries of rural residents involved in the project."

Zhao Xiang, director of the Shanshui Conservation Center, said he fully supports Zhao Jindong's proposal, as a national park requires stricter rules for preserving the integrity and authenticity of a natural landscape than a reserve.

"These areas are very fragile and sensitive. Only by performing the strictest protection measures can the ecosystem be protected effectively," Zhao Xiang said.

"If the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon becomes a national park, I think more people would pay more attention to it, and that may help inspire more people to take more action to protect it."

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