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Half Empty ep.4: Community mgmt is key to water preservation at Sanjiangyuan


05-18-2015 21:59 BJT

Full coverage: Special Series: Half Empty

The best way to preserve water resources is to respect nature, and give up the idea of conquering it, according to a Tibetan leader of an environmental group in Qinghai province.



Haxi Zhaxiduojie has made environmental protection his life's mission. He was the secretary of the Tibetan hero Jassan Sonandaj, a noted environmentalist who was killed by poachers in 1994.

"In the early 90s, I worked with Sonandaj. After his murder at Hoh Xil, I followed his footsteps in environmental protection. After all these years, I strongly feel preserving the water source at Sanjiangyuan is vital," Zhaxiduojie said.

“Tibetans call it ‘snow-covered earth’. It’s surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It’s the water source of Asia. It’s the water tower of China. But its entire river capillary system is failing. Almost every creek is drying up. From the Yellow River source, we measured that glacier thickness fell 6 meters a year at Animaqing Mountain. If this trend continues it will lead to disaster for humans. So protecting the water source is the top priority of all our efforts.

“Some argue nomadic herding caused the deterioration. I strongly disagree. We don’t have to take away all the livestock. Herdsmen have long lived at the water source. Their traditional way of nomadic life is to live with nature, rather than change it. Rather than rely on high-tech or human strength to conquer nature, they’ve become part of it.

“Black tents accommodate rainy seasons and heat. All life on earth depends on the rotation. All life can inhabit and live on the grassland. So, the best way to protect water sources should be directed by the government, but with nomads being the main body, along with support from society. We should respect the unique culture here.

“The most valuable way is to maintain its natural status, rather than changing the region. Unless you make it a national park. That should be the only way out. Human projects aren't needed to change the ecological conditions here. That’s contrary to nature.

“The top priority is eco-protection. If we put economic growth and money first, we will pay for our wrongdoings in the future. The greatest economy is to preserve the water tower. Industrialization brings great material wealth. It also brings about environmental problems. The next goal is to build an ecological civilization.

“We should establish a new eco-civilization on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; we must pursue this goal. I became involved in environmental protection because Sonandaj died at Hoh Xil. That’s the bond between the living and the dead. After all these years, I feel grateful to nature. Mother Nature is so great to all of us.

“This is a path of cultivation to quality life. It’s a process to repair the heart's center. It’s a search for a way to benefit others, a continuous improvement in self-awareness. Preserving the water source at Sanjiangyuan long ago became a kind of belief in my life. My biggest dream is the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau can provide endless water to more people and lives in the lower reaches downstream. And young people can build this place into a beautiful place to live and enjoy, a paradise ranch with man and nature in harmony."

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