The government plans to spend 70 million yuan (US$8.43 million) in the next 10 years to protect a rediscovered tree species that flourished on earth 10 million years ago, Xinhua news agency reported.
The arborvitae trees (thuja sutchuenensis franch) of the Cretaceous period were found by forestry experts in southwest China after they had disappeared from the region for more than 100 years.
The trees were found in 1999 in a 20-hectare area of the Daba Mountain Nature Reserve of Chongqing, an area said to be the only home to the most rare and precious plant in the world.
Experts estimated that the trees are 500 to 600 years old. The rare plant was first discovered by Prof. Farges, a French missionary, at the southeast part of the Daba Mountain area in 1892. In the next 100 years, many people went to the area, but the plant was never seen again.
The tree was put on the red list of endangered species of the World Conservation Union in 1998, saying it has disappeared in China.
Fan Zongqiang, an official with the Chongqing Municipal Forestry Bureau, said that to better protect the rare trees, the government will strengthen its scientific research and exert greater efforts to improve local ecological conditions.
Applications for promoting the Daba Mountain Nature Reserve to a state-level protection zone, where a dozen kinds of rare animals and plants live, has been handed over to the department concerned for approval, according to Fan.
At the same time, the government bans anybody from stealing the fruits of the trees and has built a 3,000-hectare anti-fire shelter circling the trees.
A 136,000-hectare nature reserve also will be built there in the near future.