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Tree Protection Under Way

Many old trees are being destroyed by disease or insects or lack space due to increasing urbanization.


Now a campaign is under way to find more old and rare trees and protect them.


"Trees which are rarely seen and over 100 years old with value in terms of scientific research, culture and history, will all be under protection after their identification in the near future."


Money is spent on getting rid of insects and diseases that damage the trees. New developers are not allowed to build too many buildings near the old trees.


So said Lu Shaokun, an official with the Guangzhou Municipal Utilities and Landscaping Bureau, last week.


Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, currently has 842 old and rarely-seen trees registered, which are currently having their nameplates replaced.


"This is to better recognize old trees with a more uniform system," said Lu, adding that all current nameplates for trees date back to the 1980s.


According to Lu, between 1985 and 2004 the city conducted four campaigns to identify old trees. It recognized 917.


"But only 842 have survived," Lu said.


According to Lu, around 200 more trees will be protected under the new identification campaign by the end of the year.


It is estimated that Guangzhou has more than 10,000 old and rarely-seen trees which need to be further protected, according to Lu.


The city's Liwan District is one of the most populated areas for such trees. Around 266 of them have been identified in the district, accounting for nearly one third of the city's total.


"The trees all have a history of more than 100 years, with the oldest being 895 years old," Lu said.


But he said white ants are destroying about 18 percent of the trees.


Besides the problems of insects and disease, the expansion of urban buildings is also an issue.


Sources with Lu's bureau said that about 14 percent of old trees in the city's downtown areas are being badly affected.


"These trees will gradually die of little living space if they are not immediately protected," Lu said.


Guangzhou will earmark more than 1 million yuan (US$125,000) annually to protect old trees, added Lu.


The city has established a digital network collecting information on old trees.


(China Daily September 4, 2006)

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