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One Morning, China Awoke in Green
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To commemorate the first "Green China Day," over 10,000 people across eight Chinese cities planted 5,000 trees on Sunday to launch a new initiative to help repopulate China’s diversity of flora.


The "Green China Day" was created after a proposal by 18 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference last March to create avenues for mass participation in environmental protection.


Eight cities, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanchang, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Xi'an and Fuzhou, were selected to start the program and to plant commemorative forests on "Green China Day", a move initiated by the China Society for Promoting Environmental and Cultural Development.


Pan Yue, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), issued a call for a renewal of active public participation in environmental protection.


"Tree planting is not enough for environmental protection," said Pan, speaking at Sunday's meeting attended by 1,000 participants in Beijing


Last year, the government issued regulation addressing public environmental protection evaluation, which will allow representatives to attend environmental protection program discussions that could impact upon the public sphere. Their opinions are then carefully taken into account by the state before passing new environmental protection legislation.


On Sunday, senior Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao joined 2 million people in planting trees around Beijing.


In 1981, the government’s desire to see public involvement in this area was witnessed in a policy which dictated Chinese citizens aged 11 to 55 should plant three to five trees every year to increase China's forestry.


In 2006, State Forestry Administration stats showed only 55 percent of people having trees.


China's forest area stretched to 175 million hectares last year, taking the country's forest coverage to 18.21 percent, up from 12 percent in 1981. However, despite this marked improvement, China's forest coverage stands at only 61.5 percent of the international average with its forest area per capita sinking to only 25 percent.


 (Xinhua News Agency April 2, 2007)

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