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More Efforts to Protect Dwindling Wetlands
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China has promised to put more wetlands under state-level protection and to spend more than US$1 billion protecting them from destruction.

Jia Zhibang, director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), said that China boasts 38.48 million hectares of wetlands, the largest in Asia and the fourth-largest in the world.

The government poured 366 million yuan (US$45.75 million) into wetland protection last year. By 2010, a total of 9 billion yuan will be spent on wetland protection.

China's wetlands are home to more than 2,200 wild plant species and more than 1,770 species of wild animals, Jia told a ceremony marking the 11th World Wetland Day on Friday.

However, Jia said, China's wetlands have been shrinking in recent years due to irrational development, water pollution and draining.

Plundering wildlife resources of the wetlands is threatening their bio-diversity and local fishery resources, Jia said.

Jia said China plans to put 50 percent of its total wetlands and 70 percent of its important wetlands under effective protection by 2010.

Hunting is strictly banned in wetlands and people who destroy wetland will be harshly dealt with, Jia said.

Jia said China has established more than 470 wetland protection zones, putting about 45 percent or more than 17 million hectares of its total wetlands under strict protection.

Wetland protection is included in China's 11th Five-year Plan for economic and social development.

Wetlands are considered a "kidney of the earth" as they prevent flooding, promote water conservation and purify water.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2007)




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