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Huge Input to Green the Yellow River
The Yellow River, famous for its silt and sand dunes, turning into a green and pleasant land for the first time in modern times is no fantasy, but a target for the near future.

According to an official from the Yellow River Committee of Water Resources, the government will invest billions of yuan in an unparalleled project for the greening of the Yellow River, birthplace of the Chinese civilization.

The entire river valley from source to estuary will be covered with forests and grassland. Some overseas corporations and local private enterprises are also being encouraged to take part in the project.

The Yellow River is the second longest river in China. Over centuries, floods have caused untold disasters. Now, however, it is drying up in certain sections and the river valley has more sand dunes than anywhere else in the world. The dangerous hanging river, which appears in the lower reaches, has resulted from a build up of silt raising the river level far above the surrounding land.

Li Guoying, director of the Yellow River Committee of Water Resources said that, in order to harness the soil erosion and build up of silt, both the central government and that of Shandong Province would spend 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) on the estuary alone to create the largest artificial grassland in China covering 500,000 hectares.

He also said that the nation is planning to invest 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion) in building 150m-wide shelterbelts on each side of the embankment in the lower river at the same time.

“There will be a 50m-wide shelterbelt to prevent river’s immediate overflow, backed up by another 100m-wide ecological shelterbelt. Trees will be planted on the top of the embankment, and grass and flowers will be planted under the trees. In time a gallery with green trees and flowers blooming like a piece of brocade will appear on each side of the Yellow River from Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, to Hekou, Shandong Province,” Li said.

The government is also encouraging people to plant nature herbage suitable for the special character of the high alkali base land of the lower river, which could also improve the silted sands. More and more local and oversea companies are attracted to the greening of the river estuary due to potential huge economic profits.

The nation has forbidden the felling of forests since 1998 in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. This year, the project of reforesting some of the cultivated land has taken place. By the year 2010, the total investment will be more than 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion). Then, 75 percent of the cultivated slope and 46 percent of land now subject to desertification will be covered by green.

Moreover, the nation will put 10 million yuan (US$ 1.2 million) into planting grass and fencing in the land for grass cultivation at the river source, where the ecology is weak. About 264,000 square kilometers will be set aside to grow grass.

Cheng Jiyu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that, because of the long term and unremitting efforts, the sand being carried to the sea by the Yellow River has been reduced from 1.2 billion tons to no more than 20 million tons over the past half century.

According to the new plan, 60 percent of the soil erosion area will be effectively harnessed and erosion caused by human activities will be controlled by and large.

( by Wu Nanlan, September 3, 2002)

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