China-UN Launch Sustainable Land-Use Project

A project to promote the sustainable land use in China was jointly launched here Tuesday by the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The five-year project, with total input of US$6 million, is the first cooperation project between UNDP and the MLR.

Under the project, ten pilot areas will be selected from 200 state-level land consolidation and reclamation demonstration zones, which have been set up nationwide with 1.2 billion yuan of government funding.

The ten pilot areas, representing different geological and socioeconomic features, will showcase the results of the experiments on implementing new policies, promoting public participation in law enforcement, protecting farmers' interests and the surrounding environment, said Gao Xiangjun, director with the Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Center of the MLR.

Kerstin Leitner, representative of UNDP, said that in addition to the funding aid, UNDP will help supply foreign experts for the project.

She said that the population density in some other countries and regions might be higher than that of China; however, some of them can solve the conflict between limited land resources and large population. China can borrow from their experience on the efficient land use.

She noted that UNDP intends to help China import advanced technologies and experiences, as well as increase public awareness and understanding of land laws and policies.

According to Gao Xiangjun, since China's new Land Law went into effect in 1999, some 46,000 ha. of arable land has been saved through comprehensive land planning.

However, he pointed out that China's land consolidation and reclamation with a primary purpose of saving farmland is still at a low level.

Gao said MLR's cooperation with UNDP has opened a new channel of finance for the comprehensive land planning and management in the country. China is also experimenting with other ways of obtaining funds, such as amassing capital on the stock market or getting private firms to invest.

(Xinhua News Agency 08/22/2001)

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