• Among other things, the program helped improve the quality of Tibetan grasslands.

Among other things, the program helped improve the quality of Tibetan grasslands. (Photo : Reuters)

Tibetan officials have given out 2.9 billion yuan ($466 million) in 2014 as reward to citizens who help protect the environment, a statement from the regional assembly said.

The authorities said that they gave hand-outs to encourage Tibetan citizens to protect the environment.

Cai Bin, director of the Tibet agriculture and animal husbandry department, said that funds went to those who stopped or reduced herding in areas prone to deforestation and for the subsidies of grass seed and farming equipment.

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The quality of the grasslands in Tibet improved because of the program. The fresh grass reserves improved by 20 percent from 2007, the husbandry department reported.

"In the past, we cut trees to build houses and make money. We have stopped cutting trees now. Without trees, tourism would not thrive. The government gives us compensation, so we no longer destroy the forests," said Yanggim of Nanyi Town in Mainling County, Nyingchi Prefecture.

The local people of Tibet were not eager to conserve the environment, until the authorities gave rewards for farmers and herdsmen for their efforts to reduce herding, Lei Guilong, chief of Tibet's forests, said.

The officials claim that the Tibetan Plateau should be protected from nomadic way of life and overgrazing as it degrades the value of land.

Tibetan nomads are put under pressure to leave their traditional way of life and often relocated to new urban developments with a lump sum for compensation. Once this is spent, many nomads lack the skills to compete in the urban world, website Freetibet.org said.

The website also published that many Tibetans protest against the exploitation of their environment. The residents have fears that their land and culture would be destroyed by China and that they would be punished for speaking out.

Shawo Tashi, a popular Tibetan musician, was sentenced to five years in prison for songs calling for the protection of the environment, Freetibet.org reported.