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Qinghai Uses Japan Loans in Ecosystem Improvement for Inland Lake

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The northwestern province of Qinghai is progressing with ecosystem improvement for the Qinghai Lake, China's largest inland lake, with Japanese government loans, local economic planning agency said Thursday.

Qinghai launched a 404-million-yuan (about US$59.2 million) environment preservation program for the Qinghai Lake in December 2008. The investment totalled 200 million yuan this year, the provincial development and reform commission said.

The fund is part of 3.6 billion yuan the Japanese government agreed to lend to China in 2007 for environment improvement in central and western China.

It's the first time that Qinghai has used loans from abroad for environment improvement, said Rong Xuxiang, official of Qinghai Provincial Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department.

The Qinghai Lake, nesting at the northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, had been shrinking in the past decades due to global warming and human activities. The factors also led to expansion of decertified land and decrease in biodiversity.

The fund helped to plant 13,823 hectares of grass, 5,054 hectares of woods for soil and water conservation and 1,327 hectares of shelter forest around the Qinghai Lake, Rong said.

The program also helped to ease the plague of plateau zokors with biological toxin and artificially capture in 148,531 hectares, he said.

"The Qinghai Lake was growing. The path which I took last year for morning exercise was inundated by water," said Padma, a Tibetan herdsman.

The ecosystem was recovering, bringing increase in rainfall, rise in groundwater level and more yields of grasslands, Rong said.

"I'm not worried about the herbage this winter. There are enough grasses for my yaks." said Padma.

(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2009)

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