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Forests vulnerable to disease, pests
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The country must do more to look after both the size and quality of its forests, a top official with the Ministry of Forestry said yesterday.

A comprehensive forest health assessment system is needed to look after the country's forest resources, Li Yunkun, director of forestation department of the Ministry of Forestry, said yesterday at a national conference on forestry.

Li said unhealthy forests are vulnerable to pests, disease and fire, which could eventually affect forest biodiversity.

Statistics show that China has 175 million hectares of forest, including 53.26 million hectares of fast-growing artificial forest, and forestry officials are planting more at a rate of 6 million-10 million hectares every year.

However, poor management of the country's forest resources has left them vulnerable to damage. Twenty percent of the country's forests are afflicted by disease or pests. Lack of biodiversity and poor distribution are also problems.

Wu Bin, Party chief of Beijing Forestry University, said "the rule of nature" should be applied when planting artificial forests, otherwise the effect will be moot.

In Beijing, many forests in hilly areas are unhealthy, Gan Jing, an official with the Beijing landscape and forestry bureau, said.

However, the capital has also had some successes. For example, the Beijing Badaling forest project jointly run by China and the US has been singled out as a preliminary success.

Under the Badaling forest project, 52 monitor stations have been set up to keep track of disease and pests. And 1,500 personnel have been trained in modern forest management skills.

Similar projects are also being conducted in Jiangxi, Guizhou, Shannxi and Yunnan provinces.

(China Daily November 21, 2007)

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