The Sanbei (north, northeast and northwest China) Forest Shelter
project, dubbed the country's "green Great Wall", has contributed
greatly to the improvement and conservation of ecological
environment in the project areas since it was launched 28 years
Under the project, 25.07 million hectares of trees were planted
and are growing, forming a forest belt extending for more than
4,000 kilometers in the Sanbei areas, according to the State Forest
Administration (SFA) on Sunday.
As a result, more than 20 percent of the lands affected by
desertification in the project areas have been harnessed and soil
erosion has been put under control in over 40 percent of the areas
that used to suffer soil erosion in the past, according to SFA.
The forest shelter protected 20 million hectares of farmland
from winds and sand storms, raising the grain output by 11 million
Since 1978, trees have been planted in 551 counties of 13
provincial-level regions in northern, northeastern and northwestern
China to form a long tree shield against desertification.
The eco-conservation project covers a total area of 4.069
million square kilometers, or 42.4 percent of China's total land
area. In 2003, it was included in the Guinness World Records as the
world's largest forestation project.
The Sanbei areas have 1.49 million square kilometers of desert
and gobi, accounting for 98 percent of the country's total. Sand
storms cause an economic loss of 4.5 billion yuan (US$562.5
billion) to the areas annually.
The situation has turned for the better thanks to the launching
of the forest shelter project.
More than one million hectares of trees have been planted to
conserve water sources in the project areas in the past 28 years,
helping increase water sources by 330 million tons annually. A
total of 912,000 hectares firewood trees were also planted, which
produce more than 20 million tons of firewood annually for six
million farmer households. The firewood trees also produce over 20
million tons of fresh and dried fruits annually, bringing a profit
of 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) to local people.
The forest shelter project also improved ecological environment
of 30 million hectares of grassland, raising the fodder grass
output by 4.45 million tons annually.
(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2006)