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Oases Expanding in China's Westernmost Region
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Oases are expanding in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, thanks to a wiser use of trees.


The area covered by oases in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has expanded to the current 70,700 square kilometers from 40,000 square kilometers in 1950 thanks to an afforestation drive, according to a national meeting on desert control held in Urumqi on Tuesday.


The region's afforestation drive led to the planting of 1.47 million hectares of trees in the past five years, and saw forest cover increase from 1.92 percent to 2.94 percent.


Xinjiang has 746,300 square kilometers of desert, or 45 percent of the region's total land space and 43 percent of the nation's total desert area.


Xinjiang banned felling in natural forests last year. In the past five years, the region has returned over 569,000 hectares of reclaimed farmland to forest and planted 906,000 hectares of shelter belts.


From 2000 to 2004, Xinjiang's desert area increased by an average of 104 square kilometers per year, compared with 384 square kilometers annually from 1994 to 1999, according to the third national desertification survey carried out in 2004.


(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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