Cellphone photo taken on May 13, 2021 shows grassland by the lake in Dinggye county, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]
The Tibet autonomous region has made steady progress in addressing desertification along with other environmental issues in recent years as it seeks to build an ecological security shield on the frigid Qinghai-Tibet plateau in Southwest China, a regional government official said on Friday.
The region's forested areas had reached more than 12 percent of its total area by 2020, with 81.4 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) worth of funding having been pumped into local environment restoration efforts over the past seven decades, said Luo Jie, head of Tibet's ecology and environment department.
Arid desert areas shrank by 200,000 hectares between 2004 and 2014, and over the period natural grassland coverage rose to 47 percent of the region's area, Luo said at a news conference in Lhasa.
Forty-seven natural reserves – including 11 national ones – have been set up since 1988. The reserves amount to about 420,000 square kilometers, or one-third of the region's territory – a milestone marking the progress made since Tibet's peaceful liberation 70 years ago, he added.
The concentration of PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less – has plummeted 37.5 percent compared with 2015 levels, and wastewater and solid waste treatment in urbanized areas exceeded 96 percent, Luo said.
Tibet – home to antelope and several other endangered species along with vast ecologically vulnerable lands – had just three people overseeing environmental issues in 1975, and the number reaching more than 1,000 by 2019, with a sprawling presence in every county-level jurisdiction, figures from the regional government showed.
More than 70 local laws and rules regarding the region's ecology and environmental protection have been passed since the region's liberation.
The improvements seen in one of the country's most ecologically fragile regions came after central authorities in 2017 launched a sweeping campaign to curb pollution and address other environmental issues. To win the campaign, the regional government has focused on three areas – air, water and soil quality. Five local campaigns have been launched, including one targeting diesel trucks.