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45 Bln Yuan Invested on Natural Forest Protection

China spent over 44.89 billion yuan (US$5.5 billion) in the past seven years on protecting natural forests, said sources with the State Forestry Administration in Beijing Sunday.

The bulk of the investment, about 42 billion yuan (US$5.18 billion), was provided by government, the ministry said.

Since the forest protection scheme started in 1998, it has saved wood on 130.82 million cubic meters by reducing tree felling quotas.

In the 30 years ending the 1980s, China encouraged tree felling in large natural forest zones to supply enough timber for its expanding economy.

Years' of excessive exploitation has reduced the number of trees and seriously damaged ecological balance in natural forest zones.

The forest protection program designs to entail over 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) within 10 years to recover the ecology of natural forests.

Following seven years' investment, tree felling for commercial use has been prohibited in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River. Key state-owned forest zones in the northeast region and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have reduced the number of trees cut down every year.

A survey on the water and soil conservation in 2003 shows that the acreage of soil erosion along the Yangtze River has reduced by 50 percent over the past few years and that in the Three Gorges Reservoir area reduced by 23.9 percent. The Yellow River area saw a drop of 30 percent in soil erosion area in 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2005)

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