Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has introduced a quota system this year for snow lotus plucking and dealing to curb the over exploitation of the rare plant.
Zhang Xiaopeng, director with the regional supervision center of grassland resources, said not more than 700,000 snow lotus can be plucked in 2004, dropping one-third from last year.
Listed an endangered species, snow lotuses, which mainly grow on meadows near the snow line on Tianshan Mountains and Altay Mountains, are suffering a habitat shrinkage as a result of snow line rising in recent ten years.
To make it worse, Zhang said, the rising demand for the rare plant from pharmacy and invigorant industries has caused an over exploitation and a quantity decline of snow lotuses.
Currently only three million snow lotuses are fitting to be plucked. Calculated with the 1-4 ratio between pluckable snow lotuses and the total existing ones, a figure provided by the supervision center, the region now should have some 12 million these rare plants. But the figure in 1988 was 28.3 million.
Over 100 firms in Xinjiang are engaged in the business of snow lotus purchase and processing.
The supervision center has ordered for strict management over the snow lotus business.
The licensing work will be strictly controlled and no firm can do the business without the authorization by the supervision center, the order said.
The supervision center will set each authorized firm a quota according to their business scales, Zhang said.