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China Suspends Forestation Plan to Save Farmland
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In order to maintain the 1.8 billion mus (15 mus = 1 hectare) of farmland needed during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, Chinese officials opted to shelve former plans to restore 20 million mus of farmland to forests, after just 4 million mus were converted in 2006.

The State Council has instead issued a notice on optimizing the policy for returning farmland to forests. The notice explained that in order to keep farmland from dipping below 1.8 billion mus, the original plan will be halted until further notice.

The notice aims to solve the living difficulties facing some farmers who found subsidies fell short of their needs after converting their land. The notice stated clearly that the state would continue to provide direct subsidies to the farmers who returned their farmland to forests. After the expiration of food and living subsidies, the central finance administration will establish a fund to give cash subsidies within reason to the farmers who returned their farmland to forests and help to solve their current living difficulties.

The central finance administration will also establish a fund to help cover the necessary expenses in areas converted to forests. It will be used for constructing homes, rural energy construction and relocation of people caused by the ecological needs in western China, especially in those extremely poor areas. The administration will carry out this fund plan for eight years beginning in 2008, and then gradually transfer the responsibility to the provinces.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, September 12, 2007)

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