Gahai Lake Protectors Urges Environmental Consciousness
    2013-08-21 17:51:11       Web Editor: Liu Kun

Gahai Lake is a wetland located in the southwestern part of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern China's Gansu province. []

Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern China's Gansu province has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers in recent years for its beautiful landscape and distinctive Tibetan culture. Gahai Lake, a wetland in the southwestern part of the Prefecture, attracts lots of backpackers every year with its scenery and diverse bird species. But the protectors of Gahai Lake are warning that increased numbers of visitors to the Lake are posing a threat to the Lake's natural environment. As a result, there is a dire need for visitors to become more aware of environmental issues. Liu Kun sent this report from Gahai Lake.


In summer, when most parts of China are suffering from extreme heat waves, Gahai Lake provides the perfect place for people to hang out. With temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius and with the company of a cool breeze and singing birds, you can wander around a wetland area of about 2000 hectares which lies at the bottom of stretching mountains.

Zhang Yong is vice director of Gahai Lake Conservation Station. He explains the environmental and ecological importance of Gahai Lake.

"Gahai Lake is known for its biological diversity. Also it is a resting station on one of the eight migrating channels for summer migrant birds in the world. Moreover, it replenishes a large amount of water to the Yellow River."

Zhang Yong says that the wetland was originally surrounded by fences, but explained that authorities decided to open a small part of it to the public in 2012. Since then, the Lake has become famous among backpackers. 57-year-old Zhou Xianghua travels to Gahai Lake from Xi'an in Gansu's neighboring Shaanxi province. She says she is always aware of being an environmentalist throughout her tour.

"It seems to me that most of the visitors are trying to be friends of the environment here. For me at least, I never throw trash on the road. It's such a pity if you pollute such a beautiful place."

But not everyone is as environmentally conscious as Zhou. Zhang Yong says the Lake now only receives 6000 to 7000 visitors every year during peak time in August. But even so, the environmental pressure on the Lake is heavy.

"The number of visitors keeps increasing every year and so does the pressure on the Lake's environment. The fences around the lake are being destroyed and people keep throwing trash on the road around the Lake. People who drive cars or take buses to travel here will often clean the trash out of their vehicles onto the road. It's a bad habit of Chinese people. Some see the beautiful view and will climb over the fences or cut the fences to enter the lake."

Zhang agrees that with government policies on environmental protection coming out one after another, Chinese people's environmental consciousness has improved significantly. But still, he insists that more environmental education is needed among Chinese citizens.

"We need to reinforce our education on environmental protection. We should let the people know that the Lake is not only about sightseeing. Instead, it's a natural conservation site and it's the Conservation Station's duty to protect the environment of the Lake. "

Zhang explains the number of tourists arriving at Gahai Lake is rising because Gahai Lake is a must-see spot for travelers making their way from Gansu's capital city Lanzhou to southwestern Sichuan province's Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Environmentally however, with a gross water amount of more than 3600 million cubic meters, the Lake is a major replenishing force of the Tao River, a main branch of the Yellow River.

With the recent rise of Chinese tourists, the environmental pressure these visitors put on the Lake has become an increasing burden.

For China Now, this is Liu Kun in Gansu.


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