Qinghai injects 156 mln yuan into wetlands protection, restoration

XINING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Northwest China's Qinghai Province spent 156 million yuan (23 million U.S. dollars) last year on wetlands protection and restoration, local authorities said Wednesday.

The conservation and restoration funds consisted of 109 million yuan provided by the central government and 47 million yuan provided by the provincial government, according to Ma Jianhai, director of the provincial wetlands conservation and management center.

The central government funds included 61 million yuan of subsidy funds, 43.4 million yuan of budgetary funds for wetlands protection projects and 4.7 million yuan of peatlands survey.

To ensure that all the funds had been used properly, the center made an implementation plan for their use.

The province has also made progress in wetlands conservation mechanisms, organizing local herdsmen and encouraging them to join in the protection of wetlands in Qinghai.

So far, there are nearly 1,000 wetlands rangers protecting around two million hectares of lakes, rivers and constructed wetlands across the province. Each of the rangers will be given 1,800 yuan of subsidy every month by the local government.

Wetlands have been referred to as the "Earth's kidneys" because they are vital to ecological balance.

Accommodating more than eight million hectares of wetlands, Qinghai province ranks first in wetlands areas in China. Three wetlands in Qinghai have been listed as Wetlands of International Importance, while the province is also home to 19 national wetlands.

China currently has 57 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, according to the Convention of Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention, which was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into effect in 1975. About 90 percent of member states of the United Nations have acceded to become "contracting parties."

With an average altitude of 3,000 meters, Qinghai is home to headwaters of three major rivers -- the Yellow, the Yangtze and the Lancang (Mekong) rivers.