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River Ecology Targeted

A long-term restoration project involving millions of dollars of investment has been launched at a key source of the Yellow River, China's second longest waterway, in northwestern China's Gansu Province to curb environmental degradation in the area.

The 4.45-billion yuan (US$609 million) project involved ecology restoration through the banning of grazing and construction of fixed houses for herdsmen that would be relocated, according to the Development and Reform Commission of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

The investment came from both the central and Gannan governments. The project would last until 2020.

Gannan has a 433-kilometer stretch of the Yellow River. The water supplement in Gannan accounted for about half the river's total runoff at the source region.

However, growing population and excessive grazing had led to the desertification of large areas of pasturing farms in the past 30 years and a 25-percent reduction of water to the Yellow River.

The Gannan ecological functional zone that supplemented water to the Yellow River covered an area of 30,000 square kilometers. Its population had reached 480,000, more than double its 1953 size. Its livestock had also doubled to more than 2.5 million during this period.

The wetlands in the zone had shrunk from 420,000 hectares in 1980 to the current 170,000 hectares. Nearly 90 percent of the zone's prairie had more or less become desert.

The 5,464km Yellow River originates in Qinghai Province and runs west to east through nine provinces before entering the Bohai Sea.

(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2007)

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