Located in the mountainous ranges between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces about 200 kilometers from Lijiang, Lugu Lake is like a shimmering pearl inlaid in the hills of the northwest plateau in Yunnan. [Photo/IC]
KUNMING -- Naka Drolma is a guesthouse operator and is also in charge of almost everything around her hotel, which is located by the Lugu Lake in Lijiang city, southwest China's Yunnan province.
Naka Drolma sweeps roads, empties trash and collects garbage on the green belts around her hotel, her zone of responsibility, three times a day. She also guarantees cars in her zone are orderly parked and reports damaged public facilities or those with hidden dangers to local authorities.
"With the guidance of the local government, public awareness of environmental protection around the lake has increased in recent years," she said. "Everyone is taking actions to protect our homeland."
Last year, the local government signed liability statements with 230 households of residents and hotel operators around the lake including Naka Drolma, prescribing their duties and zones of responsibilities to mobilize the public in lake protection.
"We want to have more people involved so that the protection work could be more effectively and extensively carried out," said Ruan Xuewu, deputy director of the administrative bureau of Lugu Lake.
Located in the juncture area between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, Lugu is the highest lake in Yunnan, standing about 2,700 meters above sea level and surrounded by forest-clad mountains. Known as the "sparkling pearl embedded in the highland," Lugu Lake plays a key role in balancing the local environment.
"The water is crystal clear. You can always see its bottom. In the past, we drank water directly from the lake," said Naka Drolma.
Naka Drolma, 47, has been living by the Lugu Lake, witnessing tremendous changes around the lake brought about by tourism. Fascinated by the natural beauty of Lugu, millions of tourists swarm into the area every year.
"Ever since it became a tourist hotspot, hotels, restaurants and bars were built everywhere, some of which discharged large quantities of waste directly into the lake, threatening its ecological system. Excessive human activities disrupted the harmonious balance between humans and nature," Naka Drolma said.
To protect the Lugu Lake, the central government and Yunnan provincial authorities have implemented a series of measures to restore its lost splendor.
Buildings within a radius of 80 meters from the lake began to move out last year, and ecological rehabilitation has been conducted after the retreat. The 160 households in the radius are expected to be relocated to areas with similar geographical conditions and cultural atmosphere by the end of this year.
"We understand the policy. Only when Lugu is well protected can we develop a sustainable tourism industry," Naka Drolma said.
Lijiang has built 45 km of pollution collection facilities along the bank of the lake, which could treat about 4,000 tonnes of wastewater every day.
As much as 13.5 square km of water and soil along the lake have been restored and more than 133 hectares of trees and shrubs have been planted.
In January, Yunnan and Sichuan issued a joint plan of environmental protection in Lugu, establishing a joint patrol and supervision system as well as a joint "lake chief" mechanism with responsibilities including water protection, pollution prevention and control, as well as ecological restoration in the basin.
These joint efforts have already begun to pay off. Water quality in the lake has maintained Grade I for years, the highest level in China's water grading system.
"The protection of Lugu Lake needs persistence. It's not only the treasure of Lijiang, but also nature's precious gift to mankind. Everyone is responsible for protecting it and making it better," Ruan said.
（Source: China Daily）