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Tree-Planting Day: Green Awareness Deeply Rooted

Jiang Ping was helping his neighbors, planting trees to replace those felled by the snowstorm in Guiyang County in central China's Hunan Province, the worst-hit area in the country's recent snow disaster.

"We want to green up our hometown, making it as beautiful as it was before the nightmare," he said on Tuesday, the day before China's 30th National Tree-Planting Day and the "most memorable one" in his life.

In the county, nearly 80 percent of its trees were destroyed by the worst snowstorm to hit south China in five decades.

According to statistics from the State Forestry Administration (SFA), one tenth of China's forest resources, or 17.3 million hectares of forests, has been damaged, making this year's Tree Planting Day a special one.

"I won't stop planting until my hometown is green again," Jiang said.

On the same day, Shao Lindi, a Beijing resident, was filing her application to become a tree-planting volunteer for the "Green Olympics."

"I feel I am really involved into the upcoming sports gala by planting trees to make the city look greener," the 50-year-old woman said.

With "Green Olympics" being one of Beijing's goals, the city, along with its neighbors Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality, has launched several afforestation projects before the National Tree-Planting Day.

Beijing's green efforts have been praised by Jacques Rogges, president of the International Olympic Committee, who said China was "making big strides in clearing up its air quality" ahead of the Games with initiatives like tree planting.

In southwestern Sichuan Province, "Green Spring" drove to attend a cyber-friend get-together, with spade, gloves and saplings in her car boot -- they were going to plant trees, rather than enjoy a lavish dinner, to mark their friendship.

"We all responded when someone came up with the idea of a tree-planting get-together on the weekend before the 30th National Tree-Planting Day," she said.

In 1979, China set March 12 as a National Tree Planting Day and launched the national voluntary tree-planting campaign in the early 1980s.

However, one decade ago, most Chinese would say it was a day when the top brass appeared on TV, shovel in hand to dump some topsoil on saplings.

Nowadays, the day means more involvement in the afforestation campaigns.

Online advertisements invite couples and families to plant their own tree in that day as a witness for their love and happiness.

"Celebrity Forest" has become common in China's universities and enterprises, where notable guests are requested to leave trees, rather than their epigraph.

Long gone are the days when slogans written in white paint on a tumbledown wall in the countryside read "plant more trees and have fewer babies to get rich."

"Planting trees for the sake of the environment and ourselves" has been deeply rooted in common people's awareness.

"It is not only fashionable, but more importantly, it is meaningful for our descendants," said "Green Spring," echoing the Chinese idiom "The forefathers plant trees, where their descendants can find shadows to enjoy the cool."

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2008)

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