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Progress Made in Rural Ecological Construction

China has made remarkable progress in rural ecological construction, said government officials and experts at a press conference for the release of the Green Paper 2007 on Rural Economy in the end of April.


Natural Forest Protection


In the year of 2006, China effectively protected 95.33 million hectares of forests and newly planted 866,700 hectares of forests, under the nation’s Natural Forest Protection Project. This year, the government plans to close 236 wood processing related enterprises in nine provinces, one municipality and one autonomous region, including Shanxi, Henan, Jilin, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hubei, Chongqing, and Inner Mongolia, as well the Heilongjiang natural forest reserves. The 6.04 billion yuan (US$783.91 million) debts of the bankrupted enterprises will be written off after verification, indicating that the financial problem has thus been resolved for forest industry enterprises which are unable to repay the debts because of the new policy restricting logging.


Natural Reserve Construction and Wetland Protection


China has constructed 2,349 natural reserves with a total area of 149.95 million hectares, covering 15 percent of the nation’s surface area; 528 nationally designated eco-demonstration regions; and 178 towns of environmental reservation. Thirty-three more national park reservations were built, and 11.33 million hectares of forest scenery resources have been included under state protection. An investment of 366 million yuan (US$47.5 million) was used for the construction of 12 state-level natural reserves and 48 wetland protection and restoration projects. The total coverage of the country’s wetland is now up to 38.48 million hectares, ranking the first in Asia and the fourth in the world.


Converting Croplands to Forests with Eco-restoration


The total investment of the state was 130 billion yuan (US$16.87 billion) on the project of converting croplands to forests, with 1.13 million hectares of new forests in good condition and a 93 percent survival rate.


Prevention and Treatment of Land and Water Resources Degradation


In 2006, China completed the prevention and treatment of water and soil loss of a total area of 10.32 million hectares, including 4.17 million hectares for comprehensive treatment and 6.15 million hectares for forest conservation. The land desertification has been primarily controlled, from an average yearly expansion of 343,600 hectares in the end of the last century to the present average yearly reduction of 128,300 hectares.


Rural Water Conservation


Last year, the central government invested 1.45 billion yuan (US$188.19 million) in the water-saving projects of more than 270 large irrigation areas, to increase or restore a total irrigation area of 126,700 hectares and improve a total irrigation area of 528,000 hectares, resulting in a growth of grain production capability of 1.35 billion kilograms and a water-saving capability of 1.5 billion square meters each year. The central government also invested another 6 billion yuan (US$778.72 million) to solve the problem of rural drinking water safety, an increase of 4 billion yuan (US$519.14 million) as compared with that in the previous year, in addition to the 5.5 billion yuan (US$713.82 million) investment from local governments and the public, with the result that the drinking water safety of rural areas has been greatly improved.


(China Development Gateway by Xu Lin May 15, 2007)

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