BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese environmentalists are advocating a dam to prevent the desertification in the frozen soil area in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve in Qinghai province, an isolated region in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and an UNESCO World Heritage, China Daily reported Monday.
The dam’s proposed site would be near the reserve’s Zonag Lake, a major breeding area for the once endangered Tibetan antelopes, the newspaper quoted Lu Shanlong, a researcher at the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and a professor at the Aerospace Information Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.
After bank bursting in 2011, the lake has dried up and become a major source of sandstorms wreaking havoc on the region’s delicate and vulnerable ecology.
The dam would help drive up the lake’s water level to its original level and submerge its sandy rim, which would help to rein in the sandstorms.
Sand control in the region is important because it is also the headwaters of three rivers including the Yangtze, China’s longest.
The Hoh Xil area has become warmer and wetter since the 1960s, leading to a significant expansion of Zonag Lake before the breakout eight years ago.
The breakout led to loss of soil in the exposed lake bed and the expansion of downstream lakes. Those lakes’ rising water levels have posed a danger to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highway and residents. Migration routes of Tibetan antelopes are also at risk of being cut off.
The project would also be a good way for human to intervene in the protection of Tibetan antelopes, the newspaper said citing Qu Jianjun, a professor at the academy’s Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute.