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China to convert much of Tibet into national parks

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec30’22) – China says 70% of its national park system, the world largest, across the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will be in the Tibetans Plateau region. Such projects have in the past entailed large-scale relocation of Tibet’s predominant population of nomads and farmers, with devastating consequences to their livelihood and way of life.

Releasing China’s National Park Spatial Layout Plan recently, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced that there were 49 areas in 28 provinces or provincial regions in which national parks had either already been established or could potentially be built, creating the largest national park system in the world once they are completed, reported the official chinadaily.com.cn Dec 29.

Li Chunliang, deputy head of the administration, has said at a news conference on Dec 29 that the areas represent the PRC’s most important natural ecosystems, most unique natural landscapes and richest examples of biodiversity.

“By 2035, China will basically complete the development of its national park system,” he has said. “It will be the largest in the world in terms of coverage, biodiversity and public participation.”

He has said that of the sites announced, 13 were in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, accounting for 70% of the total area of the national park candidates. The Yellow River Basin had nine candidates, while 11 were in the Yangtze River Basin.

The report said that the 49 sites announced included the five national parks that were established last year — the Three-River-Source National Park (located in the historically Tibetan territory of Qinghai Province), the Wuyishan National Park, the Giant Panda National Park (located partly in Kardze prefecture, another historically Tibetan territory now part of Sichuan Province), the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park and the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park.

The national park plan was stated to have been jointly created by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Spanning 2.58 million square kilometers, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (the term preferred by China to the otherwise universally accepted ‘Tibetan Plateau’) covers not only the Tibet autonomous region and Qinghai province, but also parts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, said another chinadaily.com.cn report Dec 29.

The report said a draft law on environmental conservation which plans to introduce more measures for wildlife and ecosystem conservation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through national legislation was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, for a second reading on Dec 27.

The plateau is the origin of some of the longest rivers in the world, including the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers.

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