by Chandan Kr Duworah
This growing desertification has become a big threat to the ecosystem along the Brahmaputra. It is assumed that moraine carried by water may create problems in paddy fields in India and dams in Tibet.
Stone, mud and sand have been deposited along the river the Brahmaputra from Tibet to Assam. The areas covered by moraine and sand along the river are expanding every year. Flash floods and Glacier melting and glacial lakes causes Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) carry moraines to the lower part of the river and the river bed becomes shallow.
The changing landscape of the Brahmaputra River is clearly evident in the state of Assam in India. The river banks on both sides are inundated with large deposits of sand – an indication of desertification spreading throughout the region. Once famous for its abundant run off the flow of the Brahmaputra is now reduced to a shallow level particularly in winter.
Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet has an average elevation of more than 13,125ft above sea level, meaning its ecological system is vulnerable and sensitive. Moreover, the plateau, home to a number of lakes and rivers that are the source of major bodies of water including the Yangtze and Yarlung Zangbo River, has a crucial impact on global climate.
Fortunately, over the past four decades, the Shannan people have made achievements in desert control by building a 1.8-kilometer-wide “green Great Wall” that stretches 160 kilometers. More than 30,000 hectares of desert land in the middle reaches of Yarlung Zangbo River has been reclaimed.
The Tibet Autonomous Region in Southwest China has been making great success in preserving its environment and pursuing sustainable development in recent years. The autonomous region’s environmental protection efforts have won great support from the central government.
Tibet should safeguard its ecological security and maintain its role as the country’s water tower, President Xi Jinping said at a seminar in January 2015, when he was talking to Nan Pei, Party chief of Tibet’s Shuanghu county. With a longsighted vision he said – “Ecological damage cannot be compensated with economic gains.”
Shannan, Xigaze and other prefectures along the Yarlung Zangbo River used to suffer from severe sandstorms in winter and spring. In 2006, the autonomous region launched afforestation projects to deal with the issue. As a result, the number of days with disastrous sandstorms in the area has been reduced from 85 days in 2000 to 32 days in 2014.
Local residents with economic difficulties have been benefited from the environmental protection efforts. The regional government has hired more than 300,000 farmers and herdsmen as security staff to protect wild animals, with each of the residents earning about 2,000 yuan per month.
Photos taken on July 23, 2018 shows the scenes of desert control measures along the Yarlung Zanbo river in Zhanang County of Shannan, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
Aerial photo taken on July 23, 2018 shows a shelterbelt forest along Yarlung Zangbo River in Naidong District of Shannan, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
A villager works at a shelterbelt forest in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, July 23, 2018.
Villagers plant saplings at a nursery base in Zhanang County of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, July 23, 2018.
Aerial photo taken on July 23, 2018 shows a nursery base in Zhanang County of Shannan
Rangers patrol at a shelterbelt forest in Shannan, July 23, 2018.
Photo taken on July 23, 2018 shows the scenery of a shelterbelt forest in Zhanang County of Shannan (Liu Dongjun)
(C K Duarah, an Assamese Journalist, former Robert Bosch Fellow (Germany) and ) is an independent researcher too.