Ecological protection and restoration in Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, Qinghai province, China

Xi-lai Li, Gary Brierley*, De-jun Shi, Yong-li Xie, Hai-qun Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Historical data and published results are reviewed to assess the rationale and design criteria used to establish the Sanjiangyuan (Three Source Region) National Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province, China. This area, which comprises the headwaters of the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong Rivers, has been described as the ‘Third Pole’ or the ‘Roof of the Earth’. Key drivers for the designation of this ecological reserve include concerns for sustainable water resources management and biodiversity management, especially the protection of endangered flora and fauna. These issues are placed in context of prevailing and prospective threats, namely climate change, environmental degradation associated with overgrazing and burrowing mammals, and human-induced pressures (population growth and various land use practices). Ecological protection and restoration measures being applied in the Sanjiangyuan region are reviewed. The approach to environmental conservation and management parallels initiatives applied in many other parts of the world, with 18 core areas, connected and/or surrounded by buffer areas, with experimental areas beyond. Adopted measures are framed primarily in relation to wetland functions, striving to protect water resources and the precious but fragile ecosystems in this region. Water resources planning strategies and landscape ecology programmes link lake and river ecosystems to grassland, forest and wetland management strategies at the landscape scale.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Environmental Management and Technology in Asian River Basins
EditorsDavid Higgitt
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9789400723306
ISBN (Print)9789400723290
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • conservation
  • ecological reserve
  • ecosystem management
  • grassland
  • mountain region
  • rehabilitation


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