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Donation Gives New Life to Guilin Nature Reserve
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The Mao'er Mountain Nature Reserve in Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is under state level protection. On February 8, it received a 10 million yuan (US$1.29 million) donation from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the protection of the biodiversity of the area, Chinanews.com reported on February 8.

The nature reserve is located at the source of the Lijiang River with a total area exceeding 17,000 hectares. With a history of over 2,000 years, the area is renowned for its green mountains, clear water, and uncommon stone formation. As for its unique geological position and biodiversity, the reserve has been selected as one of China's 16 key areas with internationally significant land diversities.

Meanwhile three other nature reserves in the autonomous region (Daming Mountain Nature Reserve in Nanning, Nonggang Nature Reserve in Chongzuo and Mulun Nature Reserve in Hechi) also received donations from GEF. It is the first time that the autonomous region's nature reserves received donations from an international organization, said local officials. And the donations will be used for "the protection of the region's biodiversity with global protective significance, and also for improving the nature reserve's management level, personnel quality and community construction."

The region, developed later as compared to other parts of the country, has been continuously seeking international aid over the past few years to enlarge its investment in forestry development and protection. In January the region's comprehensive forestry development and protection project got international and domestic organizations' aid with total investments reaching 1.655 billion yuan (US$213.67 million), of which US$100 million was from the World Bank, US$5.25 million from GEF and US$103.8 million from domestic organizations.

The region's comprehensive forestry development and protection project is aimed at building commercial forest, multi-functional shelter-forest, and closing hillsides (to livestock grazing and fuel gathering) in order to facilitate reforestation. The project will last five years.

The forest on the trial basis for carbon absorbing, carbon testing and carbon trade is the first of its kind in the world to implement the Kyoto Protocol's clean energy development system by making use of biological carbon. The project is also the World Bank's first forestation project in this country with Chinese involvement in the development process. The project involves five nature reserves and surrounding areas and about 200,000 rural households.

The 437-kilometer-long Lijiang River, a branch of the Pearl River, runs from the Mao'er Mountains north of Guilin through Yangshuo and Pinle to Wuzhou, where it joins the Xijiang River. Local statistics show that the forest coverage on the Mao'er Mountains steadily fell from the 1950s to the 1990s. Forested area, which accounted for some 40,000 hectares in 1958, had plummeted to 17,700 hectares by 1980. Even now, economic development is still based on traditional exploitation of the local forest. The number of lumber mills continues to creep up, while loggers threaten the protected zones.

(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, February 12, 2007)

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