China to invest 1 b yuan in Sanjiangyuan national park construction

XINING -- A national park planned in the Sanjiangyuan area to protect the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang (Mekong) rivers will start this year with building roads and installing surveillance cameras to assist the protection work.

The administration bureau of Sanjiangyuan National Park said Monday that the park would have a budget of 1 billion yuan ($145 million) this year for infrastructure construction.

The bureau started trial operation of the management of the national park, a vast wetland and grassland area located in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in April 2016. It is scheduled by 2020 to officially become China's first national park as administered by the central government.

Under the national park management, the park will hire more than 10,000 wardens to patrol over 120,000 square kilometers, an area bigger than the U.S. state of New York.

Zhai Jinquan, a planning official with the bureau, said that this year the park would build roads, access 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 in order to enhance ecological protection and law enforcement work, the park would build roads and install a network for remote monitoring.

Sanjiangyuan literally means "the source of three river," which is the water tower for all major rivers in China. The ecology has degraded 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 the national park management, herders and farmers will be turned into the central forces of 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.