XINING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- China plans to build a national park in the Sanjiangyuan region, the cradle of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
A guideline for the park has been completed by a design institute under the State Forestry Administration, Wang Enguang, chief engineer with Qinghai's forestry department, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The park will cover more than 30,000 square kilometers, including the rivers' sources in Madoi, Zhidoi and Zadoi counties. If the plan is given the green light, construction can begin as early as the end of this year.
At an average altitude of 4,000 meters on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Sanjiangyuan region is a paradise for herders and wildlife, such as the Tibetan antelope.
"Sanjiangyuan boasts a highland ecosystem comprising glaciers, meadows and wetlands. It's not common in China, even Asia, and has extremely high scientific value," Wang said. It is home to over 70 animal species under state protection.
Global warming and human activity since the end of last century have led to deterioration of the natural environment, shrinking wetlands, decreasing water levels in lakes and water flow in the headwaters, as well as increasing desertification.
Hoping to repair the fragile ecological system, China established the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve in 2000. Five years later, a 7.5 billion yuan (1.2 billion U.S. dollars) ecological conservation project was launched in the region. In last January, a second-phase conservation project for Sanjiangyuan started with an investment of 16 billion yuan.
Thanks to the efforts, the forest coverage rate in Sanjiangyuan increased from 3.2 percent in 2004 to 4.8 percent in 2012, and is expected to reach 5.5 percent by 2020.