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Tibet's environment chief: Nature is more important than gold

September 21, 2009

By Uking Sun - 2009-09-17

Lhasa: Tibet has implemented strict environmental protection policies making
it so in no projects can be approved unless they pass an environmental
assessment, said Zhang Yongze, director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional
Environment Protection on Saturday.

If the economic development project negatively affects the environment, the
government will certainly not approve it even if Tibet may lose economic
profits, Zhang told reporters at the Lalu wetland reserve, north of Lhasa.

"We will say no to any environment-damaging project even if it yields gold,"
he said echoing a promise made earlier by Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the
Tibet Autonomous Regional Government.

Zhang explained that the environmental protection measures in Tibet are more
comprehensive and stricter than those in other areas of China. Tibet has
frozen the mining of gold dust since January 1, 2006 and also banned the
exploitation of iron sand in January 1, 2008. In 2007, Tibet became the
first region in China to standardize the exploration of mineral resources. A
company must have the environmental protection plan and get the certificate
before starting the exploitation.

One environmental improvement tactic has been to build a wetland reserve.
Zhang said that over 100 million yuan has been invested to protect the
wetland since 1999.

Zhang says the biggest environmental challenge, in his view, comes from
global climate change. "It's an international issue that we have to solve
together" he said.
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