Environment of Tibet
Tibet is known as a holy land on the roof of the world. It is also considered as the late pure land on earth. Tibet had one of the most successful systems of environmental protection for the inhabited regions of the world. Formal protection of wildlife and environment through parks and reserves were unnecessary as Tibetan Buddhism taught the people about the interdependence of all living and non-living elements of the nature. Buddhism prohibits the killing of animals and advocates loving compassion for sentient beings and the environment.
Tibet is like a giant plant kingdom, with more than 100,000 species of high-grade plants. Many of them are rare and endemic. These plants include about 2,000 varieties of medical herbs used in the traditional medicinal systems of Tibet, China and India. Rhododendron, saffron, bottle-brush tree, high mountain rhubarb, Himalayan alpine serratula, falconer tree and hellebonne are among the many plants found in Tibet.
There are 400 species of rhododendron on the Tibetan Plateau, which make up about 50 percent of the world's total species. According to scientists, the Tibetan Plateau consists of over 12,000 species from 1,500 genera of vascular plants, which accounts for over half of the total genera found in China.
Tibet is also one of China's largest forest areas, preserving intact primeval forests. Almost all the main plant species from the tropical to the frigid zones of the northern hemisphere are found here. Forestry reserves exceed 2.08 billion cubic meters and the forest coverage rate is 9.84 percent. Common species include Himalayan pine, alpine larch, Pinus yunnanensis, Pinus armandis, Himalayan spruce, Himalayan fir, hard-stemmed long bract fir, hemlock, Monterey Larix potaniniis, Tibetan larch, Tibetan cypress and Chinese juniper. There are about 926,000 hectares of pine forest in Tibet. Two species, Tibetan longleaf pine and Tibetan lacebark pine, are included in the listing of tree species under state protection. There are more than 1,000 wild plants used for medicine, 400 of which are medicinal herbs most often used. Particularly well known medicine plants include Chinese caterpillar fungus, Fritillaria Thunbergii, Rhizoma Picrorhizae, rhubarb, Rhizoma Gastrodiae, pseudo-ginseng, Codonopsis Pilosula, Radix Gentiane Macrophyllae, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, glossy ganoderma, and Caulis Spatholobi. In addition, there are over 200 known species of fungi, including famous edible fungi songrong, hedgehog hydnum, zhangzi fungus, mush rooms, black fungi, tremellas and yellow fungi. Fungi for medical use include tuckahoes, songganlan, stone-like omphalias.
Tibet Wild Animals
The mountains and forests of Tibet are home to a vast range of animal life found only in Tibet. There are a variety of wild animals in Tibet, about 142 species of mammals, 473 species of birds, 49 species of reptiles, 44 species of amphibians, 64 species of fish and more than 2,300 species of insects.
Famous Tibet wild animals include Cercopithecus, Assamese macaque, rhesus monkey, muntjak, head-haired deer, wild cattle, red-spotted antelopes, serows, leopards, clouded leopards, black bears, wild cats, weasels, little pandas, red deer, river deer, whitelipped deer, wild yaks, Tibetan antelopes, wild donkeys, argalis, Mongolian gazelles, foxes, wolves, iynxes, brown bears, jackals, blue sheep, and snow leopards.
The Tibetan antelope, wild yak, wild donkey and argali are all rare species particular to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and are under state protection. The white-lipped deer, found only in China, is of particular rarity. The black-necked crane and the Tibetan pheasant are under first-grade state protection. Wild yak is one of rare species particular to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and under state protection.
These rare and threaten animals include: the snow leopard, Tibetan takin, Himalayan black bear, wild yak (drong in Tibetan), blue sheep, musk deer, golden monkey, wild ass (kyang in Tibetan), Tibetan gazelle, Himalayan mouse hare, Tibetan antelope, giant panda and red panda.
Birds in Tibet
In Tibet, there are over 532 different species of birds in 57 families, which is about 70 percent of the total families found in China. Some of the birds include: storks, wild swans, Blyth's kingfisher, geese, ducks, shorebirds, raptors, brown-chested jungle flycatchers, redstarts, finches, grey-sided thrushes, Przewalski's parrotbills, wagtails, chickadees, large-billed bush warblers, bearded vultures, woodpeckers and nuthatches. The most famous being the black-necked crane called trung trung kaynak in Tibetan. Unfortunately, without the Tibetan sense of enviromentalism, several of these birds are threatened with extinction.
Forest in Tibet
Tibet's forests covered 25.2 million hectares. Most forests in Tibet grow on steep, isolated slopes in the river valleys of Tibet's low lying southeastern region. The principal types are tropical montane and subtropical montane coniferous forest, with evergreen spruce, fir, pine larch, cypress, birch and oak among the main species. Tibet's forests are primarily old growth, with trees over 200 years old. The average stock density is 272 cubic metres per hectare, but U-Tsang's old growth areas reach 2,300 cubic metres per hectare - the world's highest stock density for conifers.
Minerals in Tibet
Tibet also had rich and untouched mineral resources. Tibet has deposits of about 126 different minerals accounting for a significant share of the entire world's reserves of gold, chromite, copper, borax and iron. The former Chinese Communist Party Chair, Yin Fatang, reported that the world's largest supply of uranium was locked in to the Himalayan region of Tibet.
Rivers and Lakes in Tibet
Tibet is the source of many of the Asia's principal rivers, which include: the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo), the Indus (Senge Khabab), the Sutlej (Langchen Khabab), the Karnali (Macha Khabab), Arun (Phongchu), the Salween (Gyalmo Ngulchu), the Mekong (Zachu), the Yangtse (Drichu), the Huangho or Yellow River (Machu) and the Irrawaddy. These rivers flow into ten countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These rivers and their tributaries are the life-blood of millions of people in Asia. More than 15,000 natural lakes are found in Tibet and some of the prominent lakes are Mansarovar (Mapham Yumtso), Namtso, Yamdrok Yumtso and the largest, Kokonor Lake (Tso Ngonpo).