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China's First National Park Unveiled in Shangri-La

2007-06-23

Shangri-La, famed as one of China's most naturally beautiful areas, now has the added honor of holding China's first national park, the 2,000-square-km Potatso National Park which was inaugurated on Thursday in Yunnan Province .

The national park takes up 17 percent of Diqing, an autonomous prefecture of Yunnan principally inhabited by Tibetans. Its diverse sceneries include crystal-clear lakes, undulating mountains and gurgling streams, making it a clear choice to become the country's first national park. Local government efforts to map the park began in early 2006 since which time over 200 million yuan (US$26.3 million) have been spent on strengthening the park's preservation and eco-tourism appeal. "By establishing the Potatso national park, China has taken the first step towards blending tourism development with natural protection," said Song Yinxiu, head of the park's administrative bureau. Currently, around 69 km of roads have been constructed around two of Potatso's major scenic spots, the Shudu and Bita Lakes. The lakesides have also been protected by the laying down of 10km plank roads along their edges. The focus on environmental protection stretches all the way to the park's facilities with solar-powered public toilets and buses using clean energy used to minimize pollution.
During the park's ten-month trial operation run, it received 600,000 visitors with half the revenues from ticket sales being reconverted to environmental protection. Although this is China's first national park, over 9,800 exist worldwide with the Yellowstone National Park in the US being the first one to be established in 1872.

(Source:Xinhua News Agency, 2007-06-23)