In 1986, Yang Xin and nine friends explored the Yangtze River, from the source to the Shanghai estuary. That 1,472-kilometer journey began Yang Xin’s lifelong work with the environment and, nearly three decades later, his passion has not changed. “If I do not take care and protect it, there will be hardly any people to pay attention to it,” he says.
His work expanded when he founded the Sichuan Greenriver Environmental Protection Promotion Association (Greenriver) in 1995. The association seeks to limit damage from industrialization to the glaciers and headwaters of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. “Glaciers retreated, grasslands deteriorated, and the lives of the herdsman who live around the plateau have been greatly changed,” he says.
The Suonandajie Protection Station continued his quest to bring attention to China’s environment. The station is named for Yang Xin’s hero, a government official who died trying to protect the Tibetan antelope from poachers. Yang Xin and Greenriver partner with local government to build the Yangtze River Headwaters Conservation Station and to implement a series of environmental protection programs. He says he wants to “motivate the government’s decisions on environmental protection.”