Construction of the Sanjiangyuan National Park to protect the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang (Mekong) rivers will start this year with the building of roads and installing of surveillance cameras to assist protection work.
The park’s administration bureau said on Feb 6 that it would have a budget of 1 billion yuan ($145 million) this year for infrastructure construction.
The bureau began trial operation of the management of the national park, a vast wetland and grassland area on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in April last year. It is scheduled to officially become China’s first national park administered by the central government by 2020.
More than 10,000 wardens will be employed to patrol more than 120,000 square kilometers, an area bigger than the US state of New York.
Zhai Jinquan, a planning official with the bureau, said that this year, the park would build roads, control facilities, visitor centers, preservation stations and sewage treatment facilities.
“The park is massive and sparsely populated. Most areas in the park do not have roads. Herdsmen can only ride horses to traverse the land,” he said.
Zhai said that in order to enhance ecological protection and law enforcement work, the park would build roads and install a network for remote monitoring.
Sanjiangyuan means “the source of three rivers”, and it is the water tower for all major rivers in China. However the ecology of the area has suffered degradation due to human activities such as overgrazing.
The Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve was established in Northwest China’s Qinghai in 2000. The decision to turn the area into a national park managed by the central government was made at a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Reform at the end of 2015.
Under national park management, herders and farmers will be the central forces behind environmental protection at Sanjiangyuan. The work is expected to provide jobs, boost farmers’ incomes and give them an incentive to protect the environment.
The park is rich in wildlife, including endangered species such as the Tibetan antelope and the snow leopard.