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Oases Expanding in China's Westernmost Region

Oases are expanding in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, thanks to a wiser use of trees.


The oasis acreage in the region has expanded to the current 70,700 square kilometers from 40,000 square kilometers in 1950, according to a national meeting on desert control held in Urumqi on Tuesday.


The region's afforestation drive led to the planting of 1.47 million hectares of trees in the past five years, and saw the forest coverage rate rise to 2.94 percent from 1.92 percent.


Xinjiang has 746,300 square kilometers of deserts, or 45 percent of the region's total land space and 43 percent of the nation's desert area.


Xinjiang banned felling natural forest last year. In the past five years, the region has returned over 569,000 hectares of reclaimed farmland to forest and planted 906,000 hectares of shelter forest.


From 2000 to 2004, Xinjiang's desert area increased by an average of 104 square kilometers a year, compared with 384 square kilometers annually from 1994 to 1999, according to the third national desertification surveillance program carried out in 2004.


(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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