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UPDATED: August 31, 2009 NO. 35 SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
Greening the Plateau

Located on the world's largest plateau, Tibet Autonomous Region in China's southwest has an average elevation of 4,000 meters. Tibet's diverse natural landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, vast pastures and virgin forests, combined with its unique culture, have made it a dream destination of tourists around the world. People are increasingly concerned about how to strike a balance between the protection of Tibet's ecosystem and the improvement of local living standards and economic development.

As the main body of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet is a major "origin of rivers" in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia. It also has a profound influence on climate change in Asia and the entire Northern Hemisphere. The rich biological resources have made the region an important gene pool of various species that deserve protection.

Government's efforts to protect Tibet's ecosystem started almost six decades ago. In 1951, the Central Government sent a scientific expedition to conduct surveys on Tibet's forest, pasture, water and mineral resources, which put forward suggestions on developing them. This marked the beginning of the scientific development and protection of Tibet's ecosystem.

Since the reform and opening-up policies were implemented in the late 1970s, the protection of Tibet's ecosystem has been given much attention. Central and local government departments have promulgated more than 30 regulations for this purpose. The government-invested project to protect the environment along areas of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyang Qu rivers, while also developing local agriculture, have achieved substantial effects.

In recent years, governments at all levels have attached greater importance to protecting Tibet's ecosystem. Financially speaking, the government's input into Tibet's ecological protection from 2006 to 2008 totaled 3.25 billion yuan ($478 million), higher than the 3.21 billion yuan ($472 million) investment during the five years between 2001 and 2005.

All these efforts have helped to rank Tibet as one of the best protected natural environments in the world.

A program to protect the environment in Tibet, involving a total investment of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.47 billion), was adopted this February. According to the program, 14 projects to protect local flora and fauna species and to fight against desertification will be carried out in the region until 2030.

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