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Sanjiangyuan National Park serves as vivid exemplar of China's national park system

Source: People's Daily Online Updated: 2022-09-05


Photo shows rangers at the source area of the Yellow River of the Sanjiangyuan National Park, northwest China's Qinghai Province. [People's Daily Overseas Edition/Jiang Feng]

The Sanjiangyuan National Park, which was officially established in October 2021 in northwest China's Qinghai Province, has become a vivid exemplar of the country's efforts to set up a national park system.

At the end of 2015, the central leading group for deepening overall reform approved the plan for launching a national park on a trial basis in the Sanjiangyuan area, home to the headwaters of the three rivers of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang. Spanning an area of more than 120,000 square kilometers, the pilot national park is the first pilot program for China's national park system.

Qinghai has blazed new trails with a pioneering spirit in piloting the national park system, resolving the challenges associated with overlapping jurisdictions and duties.

The province set up the Sanjiangyuan National Park administration bureau, which includes three management committees responsible for the Yangtze River, Yellow River and Lancang River source areas. It made effective progress in exploring institutional reform in four counties in the Sanjiangyuan area by integrating the ecological governance functions of several departments into the administration bureau.

Qinghai's years of efforts have achieved significant results. The institutional reform has not only streamlined the administrative structure in those counties, but also improved the Sanjiangyuan National Park's capacity for ecological monitoring and management.

A holistic approach to the conservation of mountain, river, forest, farmland, lake, and grassland ecosystems has been adopted in the national park after integrating 15 protected areas into the national park under unified management.


Photo shows a picturesque canyon of the Lancang River in the Sanjiangyuan National Park, northwest China's Qinghai Province. [People's Daily Overseas Edition/Jiang Feng]

Wang Xiangguo, head of the Sanjiangyuan National Park administration bureau, said the core of the unified management approach is to maximize governance efficiency and enhance governance capacity as much as possible.

Consequently, the average annual water resources transmitted from the Sanjiangyuan area to downstream areas increased by nearly 10 billion cubic meters between 2016 and 2020, according to statistics.

A regulation on the Sanjiangyuan National Park took effect in 2017, providing a legal guarantee for protecting the headwaters of three rivers.

As a pioneer in piloting the national park system, the national park has advanced the modernization of its ecological governance system and capacity.

Since the trial operation of the national park, the administration bureau has formulated a master plan for the national park and rolled out management measures in terms of scientific research, science popularization, rangers, franchise business, donation, volunteers and visitors, international cooperation and exchanges, and environmental education.

Meanwhile, a unified satellite-based ecological environment monitoring system has been established for the ecological conservation of the national park.

Thanks to these intensified ecological conservation efforts, the environment in the habitats for wild animals in the national park has been significantly improved and their populations are growing. But the conflict between wild animals and local people has become a pressing problem in the recent past two years.

To solve this problem, the Sanjiangyuan National Park administration bureau has cooperated with relevant government departments in Qinghai to launch a pilot insurance program for granting compensation for damage caused by wild animals.


Photo shows Bande Lake at the source area of the Yangtze River in the Sanjiangyuan National Park, northwest China's Qinghai Province. [People's Daily Overseas Edition/Jiang Feng]

Enhanced ecological conservation in the Sanjiangyuan National Park has brought tangible benefits to local people. At present, the national park has recruited 17,211 certified rangers, including former herdsmen.

Namse township of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, where the Lancang River flows through, has been dubbed the "hometown" of snow leopards because of the frequent sightings of the big cat species there.

The Sanjiangyuan National Park has piloted a franchise business model for tourism in Niandu village in the township, allowing 22 households of herdsmen to receive visitors and provide guide services for them.

Altogether, 45 percent of the franchise business revenue goes to the households, another 45 percent to the village, and the remaining 10 percent to a wildlife protection fund.