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China resettles Tibetan herdsmen to preserve Yangtze, Yellow River source

October 9, 2007

Xinhua is the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party and the 
government of China 2007-10-02 09:32:25
     XINING, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- More than 60,000 Tibetan herdsmen 
will be relocated from an ecologically vulnerable river source area 
in northwest China's Qinghai province by the end of this yearto 
better protect the source area of China's most famed rivers, 
including the Yangtze and Yellow River.

     "By July more than 30,000 people from 6,000 households had 
beendisplaced. Another 30,000 will be moved out from the area within 
the year," said Li Xiaonan, an official in charge of ecology 
preservation in Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve said in an interview with 

     Scientists have been repeatedly warning the situation would 
continue to deteriorate because of climate change, overgrazing 
andincreasing human activities in Sanjiangyuan, the source area of 
Yangtze River, the Yellow River and Lancang River.

     Qinghai started in 2003 resettling herdsmen from Sanjiangyuan, 
home to the world's highest wetlands. Two years later, the 
centralgovernment initiated a 7.5 billion yuan ecological 
reconstruction project in the area and relocation of herdsmen was 
stepped up.

     Bai'ma Kangzho, 40, used to keep about 50 livestock and lived on 
the grassland until three years ago. Her whole family moved to the 
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Huangnan because of the pasture land 

     Right after she moved to Huangnan, agricultural technicians came 
to teach her to grow vegetables in the plastic greenhouse.

     "I had never grown any vegetables before I moved here. Now the 
vegetables are growing well and I can sell them and earn 3,000 yuan a 
year," she said.

     Qinghai Province has built 35 resettlement communities and 51 
more are under construction. This year a total 61,899 herdsmen from 
13,305 households will be resettled.

     The program is seen as China's biggest resettlement project in 
terms of the population, in which 100,000 people will be 
relocatedfrom the Sanjiangyuan area by 2010 to restore the ecosystem, 
according to government plans.

     "The government has given every family a well-built house of 
70to 80 square meters, as well as plastic greenhouses to grow 
vegetables. Investment in housing alone has exceeded 200 million 
yuan," Li said.

     "Each household is given a subsidy of 3,000, 6,000, or 8,000 
yuan annually according to their financial circumstances," he added.

     The provincial government has earmarked funds totaling 80 
million yuan to give the herdsmen technical training, such as machine 
repair, cooking, and handcrafts, so that they could be more 
independent financially.

     "To move the herdsmen from pasture lands they have inhabited for 
generations is not easy," said Deni, head of a community in Darlag 
County of Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog. "But due to erosion 
and desertification, more and more people are realizingthe benefits 
of resettling,"

     "The government has done a lot to persuade those who are truly 
reluctant to move. The relocation is in line with the will of the 
herdsmen, not by force," he said, noting many herdsmen felt 
easierafter seeing the school, hospital, and the facilities in the 

     Deni said a few hundred households of herdsmen in Golog are 
voluntarily applying to resettle so the pasture land could 
recoverfrom over-grazing.

     Li Xiaonan said the resettlement project in Sanjiangyuan is 
proceeding smoothly and the preservation and displacement measureshad 
proven effective.

     "But it would take about five years to restore the ecology and 
at least 10 years to curb desertification in the region," he 

     (one U.S. dollar is equivalent to 7.5 yuan)

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