In order to provide legal support for the preservation, inheritance, supervision, and management of this piece of cultural heritage dating back more than 1,300 years, the city of Qamdo in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region started putting into practice a local regulation on the detailed protection of its ancient salt fields on Thursday.
Mangkam County’s old salt fields are surrounded by a wide region of green fields and exhibit the pink-and-white salt that looks like peach blossoms. There are more than 4,300 different salt fields spread out here, each one filled with brine and reflecting the clear sky and fluffy white clouds.
The only location in China where salt is still manufactured in considerable quantities using archaic methods is here. The locally produced sun-dried well salt was included on China’s national list of intangible cultural treasures in 2008. The Mangkam salt fields were tentatively included to the nation’s list of World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2012.
A total of 42.74 hectares are subject to severe preservation regulations under the new protection law, including salt wells, fields, and historic homes of nearby salt farmers. The maximum height of structures is also limited to 12 meters.
In order to further promote the local conservation of this piece of historical and cultural property, the paper defines legal requirements in addition to offering information on protection, administration, and optimal exploitation. It also looks at possible sustainable development avenues for linked tourism.
According to Trinle Palmo, director of Mangkam County’s culture office, “the valuable skills of salt making in the area and the ancient salt fields are of great natural, historical, scientific, social, and cultural value.”
The historic salt wells and farms, however, now face two challenges: protecting the environment and preserving cultural heritage. This is because market demand and agricultural production models have evolved over time.
The official also said that anyone who participate in actions that jeopardize the security and environment of the historic salt wells and fields would face sanctions from the appropriate municipal agencies.
The rule further stipulates that while the salt is being sun-dried, locals are prohibited from unilaterally altering the conditions of the salt fields and are required to preserve local customs and environment while regularly repairing any damaged or abandoned salt fields.
The text also emphasizes the enhanced transmission of regional culture and salt-making expertise.
Drolma Yangzom, aged 57, said that her family has been producing salt for many generations. “I began manufacturing salt with my grandma and mother when I was 12 years old, so the salt fields have a special place in our hearts. We can now better carry on the ancient talents thanks to the rule.
Ye Cong, director of the county’s tourism office, stated that as more visitors come to the area, the inhabitants will be able to partake in the benefits of the tourism industry and their excitement for salt production would also increase.
A 34-year-old resident of the area named Tashi Lhamo often records beautiful scenes of the salt fields and uses them in quick movies or livestreams the countryside to internet users all over the world. “Many customers will return to the site to purchase salt online. I can sell more than 3,000 salt packets online annually, she said.
Tashi Lhamo said, “I hope that the rule will increase public awareness of the need to save salt wells and farms, value the benefits offered by heritage, and revive the traditional salt-making skills.