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13 New Hope for Protecting Sanjiangyuan: Headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Mekong Rivers

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Chapter Summary

China's rapid economic growth has been accompanied by environmental destruction and degradation of nature reserves. In order to safeguard Sanjiangyuan, which contains the headwaters of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, and the Mekong River, China must develop a solid understanding of the region, and develop flexible natural resource management practices. Policy and administrative innovations are needed to replace "one size fits all" solutions to ensure long-term effectiveness in ecological protection. In November 2011, the Qinghai Sanjiangyuan National Ecological Comprehensive Experimental Zone was approved by the State Council. With such principles as "respecting local cultures", "protecting ecological environments", and "protecting the livelihood of local people", the experiment aims to highlight the role of local pastoralists and farmers, invite NGO participation, and innovate an administrative framework. These top-down policies, coupled with bottom-up, community-based experiments in mobilizing the local people since 2000, offer new hope for protecting Sanjiangyuan.

Keywords: China; Mekong River; Sanjiangyuan; Yangtze River; Yellow River



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