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China, ROK Kick off Desert Control Program in Inner Mongolia

China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will jointly invest 15 million yuan (about US$2 million) on a desert control program in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to an agreement signed recently.

According to the agreement, ROK will provide US$1 million in aid for desert control efforts in Bayan Nur city in Inner Mongolia. The remaining fund will come from the local government.

The money shall be spent on the building of greenhouses and the planting of trees.

About 300,000 hectares of land in the city are covered by the Ulan Buh Desert. Some 400 million yuan (US$53 million) have been spent in recent years to contain the expansion of the desert, through the planting of trees on more than 130,000 hectares of land.

The deserts in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have been driven back over the last eight years thanks to increased afforestation, according to official data.

Inner Mongolia's forest coverage had increased to 17.6 percent last year from 14.8 percent in 1999 and the area of land affected by desertification had shrunk by more than two million hectares.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. With an area of 1.18 million square kilometers, it covers 12 percent of China's territory and is the third largest Chinese region in terms of area. Its population was 23.86 million at the end of 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency October 3, 2007)

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