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China to Plant 2.5 Bln Trees

Authorities unveiled a reforestation plan to plant 2.5 billion trees covering more than 5.3 million hectares this year, a senior forest management official said Monday.

Jia Zhibang, director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), also said the country aims to create forest products valued at 1.4 trillion yuan (US$193 billion) this year.

Last year, the country increased its forest coverage by 5.2 million hectares, equivalent to 2.27 billion trees, and produced forest goods valued at about 1.2 trillion yuan, 9.85 percent higher than in 2006.

Jia said a recent United Nations survey on global forest resources showed that China's annual forest plantation growth accounts for 53 percent of global forest growth effected by humans, given the fact that China's man-made forest coverage accounts for a third of the world's total.

About 666 million hectares of trees in the world are being cut annually, but China contributes more than 400 million hectares of forest growth to stem that, the SFA's figures show.

"China has become one of the countries which embraces fast growth of forest coverage," Jia said. "It has made contributions to counter the negative effects of logging."

Jia said forest administrations of all levels will give priority to protecting and planting trees.

"China's target of increasing green coverage from the current 18.21 percent to 20 percent in 2010 must be met," he said.

Aside from reforestation, protecting wetlands, controlling desertification and protecting wildlife are also on the SFA's agenda for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The wetlands of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers will be put under protection, Jia said.

So far, 47 percent of the country's wetlands have been effectively put under conservation, he said.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the country's Three-North Forest Shelterbelt Program, a greenbelt established in the northwest, north central and northeast regions to buffer desertification.

Jia said Minqin county and the Shiyang River basin in Gansu and the Loess Plateau will be key areas for planters fighting encroaching sands.

(China Daily January 15, 2008)

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