Chinese draft law to prohibit entry to important glaciers in Qinghai-Xizang Plateau for protection

Sanjiangyuan, meaning the “source of three rivers,” is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. The ecological system has been steadily improving in recent years in the Sanjiangyuan National Park, making it a habitat of an increasing number of wild animals. Chinese lawmakers are working on the final review of a draft law that emphasizes the protection of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and frozen soil on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau by specifying particular requirements, including prohibiting entry to certain important snow-capped mountains and glaciers for protection.

The draft law on ecological conservation on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, which was submitted for a third reading on Monday, requires establishing and improving the protection system of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and frozen soil on the plateau, media reported. It also aims to strengthen the monitoring, early warning and systematic protection of these natural resources. The revised version of the draft law states that provincial-level governments on the plateau must establish and promote the implementation of ecological conservation red lines for large ice caps and glaciers, as well as for groups of small glaciers.

They should also protect key snow mountains and glaciers by taking strict and effective measures to prevent human interference. The provincial-level governments are also required to delimit the protection scope of permafrost regions. Major projects involving transportation, pipelines and power transmission systems in these areas should be subject to strict review and approval, according to the draft.

The draft law increases the penalties for illegal actions that sabotage the environment on the plateau. Those who dump garbage in the region will be asked to rectify and fined from 100 yuan ($14.51 yuan) to 500 yuan. If the violation is severe, the fine could be as much as 10,000 yuan. A legislative bill normally goes through three readings before it is put to a vote. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee completed two readings of previous versions of the draft law on ecological conservation on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau in August and December last year. The third reading will take place at an NPC Standing Committee session between Monday and Wednesday. Tian Lide, a professor at the Institute of International Rivers and Eco-security in Yunnan University, said that China has abundant glacier resources, and as the climate is becoming warmer, most glaciers have been affected. “Ice cores are a significant historical reference for studying the climate. Now, scientists are racing against time, trying to preserve the archives of glaciers before they disappear,” said Tian. Aside from setting up legal protection for glaciers, China has also made much effort to protect glaciers, including establishing protection zones and strictly restricting glacier tourism.

News Desk

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