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China Outlines Six Key Ecological Projects

BEIJING, September 4 -- China has decided to focus its ecological construction attention on six super-large projects involving afforestation, wildlife and nature reserves in the coming 15 years, an official said Tuesday.

Li Yucai, vice-director of the State Forestry Administration, told a meeting on forestry and environmental protection that the six projects involve protecting natural forests, building 20-million-hectare shelter belts in northwest, north and northeast China and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and converting farmland to forest and grassland in the vast but ecologically fragile western China.

The projects also cover sand control in areas around Beijing, wildlife protection and construction of nature reserves and forest industry bases.

The Chinese government has allocated over 22 billion yuan in compensation funding for the logging ban in nature forests in the upper reaches of the Yangtze and the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River, and for slashed logging quotas in nature forests in northeast China.

In 1,108 counties in 24 provinces and autonomous regions in central and western China, 5.3 million hectares of farmland will be returned to forest and grassland and eight million hectares of barren hills will be planted with trees or grass.

The six projects which will help control water and soil erosion in an area of 36 million hectares, and the runoff of sand into the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, the two longest in China, will be reduced by a total of 260 million tons each year, the official said.

Farms for fast-growing trees covering 13 million hectares will be set up over a period of 15 years across the country to provide 130 million cubic meters annually, meeting up to 40 percent of the country's total demand for timber.

A total of 7.8 million hectares of trees and grass will be planted to control desertification in areas around Beijing, and the area of nature reserves will be expanded to cover 16 percent of China's land territory.

"China is formulating policies and measures encouraging the whole of society to contribute to these projects," said Li.

Governments at all levels will be the biggest investors in the afforestation projects that have high ecological value for the general public, he said.

For commercial forests, the role of the market will be brought into full play with appropriate government support.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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