The governor of Yunnan said on Thursday that the province will work hard on protecting the environment and adopting standards to become a "bellwether of the ecological civilization development" in China.
Governor Wang Yubo said at a news conference that the province, known as "a kingdom of fauna and flora", will put itself in the position of the "ecological security protector in Southwest China".
"Determined to protect the environment, we are ready to give up our immediate interests and gross domestic product growth rate. It is precisely because of this 'giving' that we can 'get' high-quality development, high-quality life and highly-efficient governance," Wang said.
Over the past decade, Yunnan has made numerous achievements in environmental protection.
Of the province's bodies of water, 89.6 percent were rated as having good water quality, an increase of 34.5 percentage points over the past 10 years, thanks to the overall promotion of water pollution control and water resource management, the governor said.
"The province will assume responsibility for protecting the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and avoid large-scale development along the river," he said.
Yunnan will also ensure that the waters flowing out of the province remain above Grade II, the second-highest level in the five-tier water quality rating system in the country, he added.
Yunnan's percentage of forest coverage ranks near the top among all provincial-level regions in the country, he said. As 94 percent of Yunnan's land area is mountainous, the province's forest coverage rate reaches 65 percent and its forest stock is about 2.1 billion cubic meters of wood, he added.
Some 80 percent of key protected wild animals and plants in Yunnan have been put under effective protection, he said. "During last year's first phase of COP15, biodiversity in Yunnan stunned the world," Wang said.
The first phase of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP 15, was held in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, in October.
Months before the meeting, a herd of Asian elephants left their habitat in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve and marched north, making headlines around the world.
Wang said natural resources can be transformed into cultural tourism products and that, despite the pressure of COVID-19 control and prevention, tourism in the region is making a strong recovery.
"Some netizens said it seems like half the tourists in China went to Yunnan for fun," he said.
Over the past few days, Kunming Changshui International Airport has dealt with the largest single-day passenger volume in the country－nearly 110,000 people－and some 300,000 railway passengers enter Yunnan every day, Wang said.