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China to Tackle Shrinking Number of Biological Species

China is working to slow down the reduction of biological resources with a new plan issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

"We aim to effectively control the fast reduction of biological species in China by 2010, especially that caused by human activities," said Wu Xiaoqing, the SEPA deputy director in Beijing on Friday.

According to the plan, China plans to build more natural reserves for wild animals, plants, aquatic animals, livestock, crops, herbs and microbe.

By 2010, the country plans to increase the number of natural reserves for wild animals from the existing 511 to 525 or 535 and the area of these reserves will rise from 40 million to 47.3 million hectares, the document said, "The reserves will put 90 percent of rare wild animals under protection."

A SEPA report said that about 300 species out of 2,700 terrestrial vertebrate animals in China are endangered now.

Several special projects will be launched to save endangered animals such as tigers, Tibetan antelopes, snow leopards, musk deer, pandas and Chinese alligators.

According to the layout, the SEPA also plans to add eight more breeding centers for wild animals by 2015. Now the country has 11, including the most famous China Giant Panda Research Center in Wolong of southwest Sichuan Province.

China is facing severe water pollution, which also affects its offshore areas. The SEPA said that 26 percent of freshwater cannot be used for any purpose and 24.3 percent of offshore sea water is only suitable for harbors or even worse, which seriously threatens aquatic creatures.

"Over-fishing also led to the reduction of their population," Wu said.

The number of endangered aquatic animals species has increased from 80 in 1988 to about 500 now.

The plan said that the country will continue to cut the number of fishing boats in the offshore areas, from 220,000 now to 192,000 by 2010.

Meanwhile, China will set out to protect the diversity of crops, establishing 50 to 80 reserves on wild species of crops, for example, 32 for wild rice in south and southwest China.

However the SEPA did not say how much money will be invested in these projects.

(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2007)

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