Tibet to invest $563m to protect environment

Updated: 2013-01-25 00:08

By WANG HUAHZONG and DAQIONG in Lhasa (China Daily)

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The government of the Tibet autonomous region plans to invest more than 3.5 billion yuan ($563 million) in 2013, 10.5 percent more than last year, in environmental protection.

According to the draft budget of 2013, which the regional finance department submitted for the legislature's approval on Thursday, the investment will also support the building of an ecological safety screen on the plateau.

More than 3.23 billion yuan will be used for major forestation projects and for compensating and rewarding locals who protect and grow grass and forests and conserve wetlands, lakes and water resources.

More than 50 million yuan will be allocated to support environmental improvement projects and preserve resources, according to the draft budget.

According to the autonomous region's environmental protection department, the plateau's fragile and sensitive environment faces a worsening situation of land desertification, soil erosion and threats to deteriorating biodiversity.

New challenges are emerging from increasing urban pollution related to tourism, traffic and mining.

However, environmental protection has also received "unprecedented" attention over the past five years, the department said.

The State Council, China's cabinet, listed the protection and building of a safety screen of environment in Tibet as a State-level major eco-project in February 2009.

The project aims to pour in 15.5 billion yuan to basically finish building the screen by 2030.

According to a government work report, Tibet has controlled desertification and prevented water loss and soil erosion on a total of 130,000 hectares of land over the past five years.

People planted 260,000 hectares of forests and sealed-off forests on more than 511,000 hectares. Eight wetland conservation zones have been established at regional level in the same five years.

The consul general of Nepal in Lhasa, Hari Prasad Bashyal, said he is impressed not only by the social and economic development in Tibet, but also by the government's environmental protection efforts.

Bashyal said he went to Lhasa, Xigaze and Nyingchi last year and saw how the government was progressing in its promotion of environmental protection and forestation.

"Tibet is environmentally concerned. … People are considering protecting trees before industry."

Tanniya, a legislator from Nyingchi prefecture, said she feels the same way. "People are getting richer now, with higher expectations. They want to enjoy a bluer sky and cleaner water while their income keeps growing."

She said, "I have faith because the central authority has asked that economic, political, cultural and social development be matched by the development of environmental protection."

Contact the writers at wanghuazhong@chinadaily.com.cn and daqiong@chinadaily.com.cn