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Great Efforts Planned to Protect Natural Wetland Resources

HARBIN, September 26 -- China has decided to give up its original plan of developing its 25 million ha of natural wetland into agriculture resources, in a bid to reinforce ecological system protection, an official from the State Wetland Co-ordination Committee has announced in this capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

He said that China will no longer take natural wetland as reserved resources to be used for large-scale agricultural activities, including crop planting.

China possesses the world's fourth-largest area of wetland, larger than the whole territory of Britain.

The Ministry of Agriculture has decided that natural wetland will be removed from the list of reserved arable land resources. The country will make efforts to increase its total grain output by land re-arrangement and reclaiming exhausted farmland, according to ministry officials.

Heilongjiang, which possesses one sixth of the country's natural wetland, has ceased land reclamation and excavation. Provinces along the Yangtse River, the Yellow River and coastal cities have taken similar measures.

Some of China's natural wetlands are of a unique type, and contain various kinds of life forms, which play very important roles in modulating the weather and maintaining underground water.

China once held that "natural wetland equals waste land", and listed it as reserved resources for agricultural purposes.

Half of the whole country's mudflats and one tenth of the country's lakes have disappeared owing to decades of excavation and reclaiming.

Scientists say that the floods, droughts, red tides and sand storms which have afflicted China frequently in recent years, are closely related to the shrinking of natural wetland. Related ecological damage has caused economic losses equal to 4 to 8 percent of the country's Gross National Product.

The Chinese government has started to implement an "Action Plan for Protecting China's Wetland" for the next two decades, and set up 39 key projects.

According to the plan, China will work out a legal system for wetland-protection and set up an advanced monitoring network for the wetland ecological system.

The country will also enlarge its protection area for wetlands, encourage people to participate in wetland protection, and strengthen technological cooperation with relevant international organizations.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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