The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where the numerous natural solid reservoirs formed by the glaciers are found, is the main source of dozens of rivers of China and neighboring countries such as the Yangtze, Yellow River and Lancangjiang River. The plateau is home to many rare species, wetlands with the highest average altitude and diversified natural sights, all of important and even unique ecological value in the world.
In order to strengthen the work of ecological construction and environmental protection, the Tibet Autonomous Region signed responsibility documents on key pollutants control with each prefecture or city to ensure the discharge of pollutants was contained within a specified range. It also gradually introduced the system of pollutant-discharge report and license. For key pollution sources, it increased the levy on pollutant discharges and urged the discharging units to expedite their efforts at control. Tibet also adopted measures on establishing the sound environmental management for disposal of radioactive isotopes and radiological equipment, strengthened the management of the radiation environment, and started preparatory work for construction of dangerous and medical waste disposal centers.
With the Xigaze County-Level Environmental Protection Office being set up in June 2006, such environmental protection organs are now found in all the counties (cities and prefectures). Tibet had set up eight different kinds of environmental testing stations, 61 water quality-monitoring stations and six water and soil conservation monitoring stations by the end of 2006.
As the basic capacity building for environmental protection is strengthened year after year, and the harnessing of pollution is enhanced constantly, the environmental quality of the whole region is improving. In 2006, Lhasa City saw 363 days of good air quality and only two days where a slight measure of pollution prevailed.
In April 2007, the Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government issued the Opinions on Decisions Concerning Strengthening Environmental Protection, which decided to build a State ecological safety barrier on the Tibet Plateau, aiming to keep and improve environmental quality, enhance the sustainable development capability and guarantee people's health. Efforts will be made to control the emissions of COD (chemical oxygen demand) and SO2 (sulfur dioxide) in the whole region below the State-specified index by the end of 2010. The quality of concentrated drinking water sources in urban areas will reach the required standard in an all-round way, and safe drinking water will be basically offered in farming and pasturing areas. Pollutant discharges of industrial enterprises are basically within the set limits, urban life pollutants are effectively controlled, and the hazardous waste disposal rate has risen markedly, thus maintaining and improving the environmental quality of key urban areas.