Huge glaciers, abundant rainfall, numerous lakes and rivers and wide watercourses form the vast-distributed, diversified highland wetlands in Tibet. According to survey, the TAR has more than six million hectares of wetland, accounting for about 4.9 percent of Tibet's total land area and ranking first in China. Most of the wetland is natural. Due to under-population and late economic development, the majority of wetland areas are less polluted by modern industry so that biodiversity on the wetlands basically retains its natural, primary ecological state.
In 2006, the State invested 200 million Yuan for the first time carrying out a project including the construction of 12 national-level nature reserves and the protection and recovery of 48 wetlands. This project involved the protection of the important wetlands, the recovery of degenerated wetlands and comprehensive demonstration for the reasonable use of wetlands. Starting from 2007, Tibet's eight wetland nature reserves will be listed in the National Implementation Program for Wetland Protection Engineering (2005-2010) ratified by the State Council. Wetlands, as the "Species Gene Pool" and the important oxygen supply source, play a vital role in regulating climate, purifying water bodies and protecting bio-diversity. According to expert calculation, Lhalu Wetland alone could absorb 78,800 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 53,700 tons of oxygen through photosynthesis each year.
By 2007, Tibet had established 38 nature reserves of different types. Of these, nine are on the national level, six are on the autonomous region (provincial) level, and 23 are on the prefecture, prefecture-level city or county level. Nature reserves cover a total area of 408,300 square km or 34 percent of the total land area of the region. In addition, Tibet is home to 17 ecological function conservation areas, seven national forest parks and two national geological parks.
(China's Tibet Facts and Figures 2008)