Plateau protection at the national legislative level
Editorial  ·  2023-05-12  ·   Source: NO.20 MAY 18, 2023

The law on ecological conservation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, in April, will become effective on September 1.

Formulated to improve ecological conservation, control ecological risks and ensure ecological security on the plateau, the law is the latest addition to China's legislation for specific geographic regions, following the enactment of the Yangtze River Protection Law in 2020 and the Yellow River Protection Law and the Black Soil Protection Law in 2022.

The plateau covers the entire Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province, in addition to parts of Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, accounting for roughly a quarter of China's land territory. The highest one in the world, hence widely known as the Roof of the World, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is also nicknamed the Water Tower of Asia because its vast glaciers are the source of major Asian rivers. The quality and functions of the plateau's ecosystem directly affect China's biodiversity, water resources supply and overall climate system stability. But it's also one of the world's most climate-sensitive regions and its environment faces many challenges.

Grassland degradation remains a serious problem, the risk of glacier degradation resulting from climate change is increasing, soil erosion and land desertification threaten biodiversity, extreme weather events happen frequently, and climate and secondary disaster risks are increasing.

Addressing these challenges requires the strengthened protection of the plateau and the prevention of ecological security risks at the national legislative level. By adopting dedicated legislative measures to protect the ecosystem of this area, China aims to integrate programs targeting mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands, deserts and glaciers. Problems relating to resource availability and the region's ability to support species, disaster risk prevention and methods of green development will be addressed to better balance ecological conservation and sustainable development and ensure humans and nature live in harmony.

The law on ecological conservation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a top-level design, coming directly from Beijing, which demonstrates the importance the Central Government attaches to ecological conservation on the plateau. It will make the institutional design more coordinated, and give better play to the role of legislation in guiding, promoting and safeguarding conservation. 

(Print Edition Title: Roof Repair) 

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