Tibet’s ecological protection stressed

By Shan Jie and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/8 1:13:00

Promoting region’s unique resources would alleviate poverty: official

Tibet's development should be guided by innovation, coordination, green development, openness and sharing, according to a Chinese official at a forum on the region's development on Thursday.

Liu Qibao, publicity chief of the Communist Party of China, said at the opening ceremony of the Forum on the Development of Tibet that the region is on the cusp of a new round of development. It will continue to pursue economic and social improvement, augment people's livelihood, encourage multiculturalism, and protect local culture and the environment, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Environment protection has become a burning issue on the forum.

Zhang Tianhua, a deputy director of the regional Environmental Protection Department, said that Tibet will remain committed to protecting the environment and more than 7.1 billion yuan ($10 billion) has been spent on this area since 2009, and 15.5 billion yuan has been earmarked for environmental protection measures before 2030.

The funding so far has been used to conserve grassland, forests, wetlands and wildlife reserves, and for building monitoring facilities. More than a third of Tibet's land area is covered by nature reserves of over 412,000 square kilometers.

Daniel Joseph Dudek, chief economist of the Environmental Defense Fund in the US, praised Tibet for protecting its environment. However, he pointed out that due to the ecological sensitivity and vulnerability, compounded by the combined effects of global warming and human intervention, some parts of the region have suffered from desertification, land erosion and trans-boundary air pollution.

Dudek suggested environment conservation in Tibet could adopt international methods, such as the "habitant exchange" system, to help its people, wildlife and economy. 

According to US-based non-profit environmental organizations, in a habitat exchange, landowners such as farmers and ranchers create, maintain and improve the habitat on their property and earn credit for their efforts.

Landowners sell their credit to the industry in exchange for the development of roads, transmission lines and wind turbines that would have an impact on the environment.

Official data shows per capita disposable income of urban residents in Tibet reached 25,457 yuan ($3,808) in 2015, up 15.6 percent from the previous year, according to the regional government.

"However, 590,000 people in the region remain below the poverty line and have little chance of getting out of poverty," Gou Ling, the director of Tibet's poverty relief office, said.

Aside from central government funds, tourism plays a significant role in Tibet's poverty relief efforts, which contributed a quarter of its GDP in 2015, Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The region's unique tourism resources could help to expand its market," Lian noted.

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