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Across China: Tech innovations boost ecological protection in 'water tower'

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-29 15:31
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XINING -- Sitting at his computer desk, Kunlek Namgyal can monitor the water ecology situation of key areas such as the Sanjiangyuan area in real time through a video system with just a click of the mouse.

The Sanjiangyuan area, known as China's "water tower," contains the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. In recent years, Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Northwest China's Qinghai province, which administers a part of the area, has been strengthening the protection of water resources through scientific and technological means.

Kunlek Namgyal, 26, is from Yushu's Zadoi county, located at the source of the Lancang River. Having grown up by the water and now in charge of managing the video monitoring system, he has developed a deep appreciation for the ecological changes taking place in the area.

"Due to its vast territory and inconvenient transportation, the ecological monitoring and protection of Sanjiangyuan have always relied on field patrol by humans, which has problems such as slow response, long time consumption, high cost and limited coverage," said Kunlek Namgyal. "The computerized system solves these problems well and makes the ecological protection in this area more convenient and efficient."

The development of the video monitoring system in Yushu began in 2019. The system consists of high-altitude observation video cameras at multiple vantage points, a real-time transmission network and a management and control platform, forming an important part of the ecological monitoring network in the Sanjiangyuan area.

Because there is no network signal and power grid coverage in many parts of the Sanjiangyuan area, the construction of some observation stations requires dedicated lines, which is difficult and expensive. So far, more than 11 million yuan (about $1.6 million) has been invested in the system, and it is still expanding the coverage of the observation stations.

An integrated ecological environment monitoring network has been developed in Yushu, said Zhang Bo, deputy director of the ecological environment bureau of the prefecture.

The monitoring network has three tasks: obtaining the overall trend of change in the regional ecological environment through remote sensing satellites, using unmanned aerial vehicles and other small aircraft to realize regional environmental observation, and timely and intuitively reflecting the ecological environment quality through ground observation stations.

"The completion and operation of the platform have effectively supported the supervision of the nature reserves and the monitoring of the diversity of species to help protect the water ecology in the source area," Zhang said.

The water ecology of the Sanjiangyuan area has been consistently improving, with the water quality in Yushu remaining at Class II level or above over the years, indicating good water quality for an extended period. On average, Yushu provides approximately 29.7 billion cubic meters of clean water annually to downstream regions.

Eurasian otters, which have high requirements for water quality, are also frequently spotted in Yushu's urban rivers.

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