Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve
Sanjiangyuan (literally "Source of Three Rivers") Nature Reserve, the world's biggest nature sanctuary, lies in the south of Qinghai Province. The three rivers are the Yellow River, Yangtze River and Lancang River. The area covered in this nature reserve amounts to 363,000 sq km, or 44.1% of the total of Qinghai. The elevation of the reserve is between 4,000 and 5,000 m above sea level. Administratively, it includes 16 counties under Yushu, Guoluo, Haixi, Hainan and Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures.
Within the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve are a number of mighty mountains, glaciers, rivers and lakes. Dotting the area are 16,543 lakes and ponds of all sizes, of which the better known include the Gyaring, Ngoring, and Hoh Xil lakes. They cover a total area of 2354.25 sq. km. The Yangtze Headstream Wetland and the Longbaotan Wetland on the Upper Reaches of the Yellow River are the largest and highest wetlands in the world.
The nature reserve was established in May 2000 and was upgraded to one of state class in January 2003. It is aimed at protecting the Alpine wetland ecosystems at the sources of the three rivers; wildlife and their habitats, including chiru, wild yak, snow leopard, Nayaur, Pantholops hodgson, Cordyceps; typical high cold meadows and alpine steppe vegetation; and Alpine forest ecosystems, including Picea crassifolia Kom, Sabina przewalskii and Mountainous sparse Sabina.