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Scientists to Explore Amazonian Heartland

A team of Chinese scientists will probe the heartland of the Amazon River Basin in mid-July this year, in what will be the country's first large-scale multipurpose exploration in the area, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the country's leading research institution.

The Amazon River Basin covers more than 7 million square kilometers and possesses over 30 percent of the world's total rain forest, playing an important part in adjusting the global climate, said Tao Baoxiang, a senior engineer with the CAS and leader of the six-member group.

The scientists will focus on areas around Manous City, in the middle reaches of the Amazon River. Stops will also be made in selected upper and lower reaches of the river for field inspection of water resources, vegetation, animals, customs, culture, economic development and environmental protection, Tao said.

Chinese scientists will pay close attention to the exploitation and protection of the Amazon rain forest, said Chen Guangwei, a team member from CAS, noting that 16 percent of the rain forest in Brazil has been cut down.

The unrestrained felling has led to the dwindling of the rain forest and the ecological imbalance, which has aroused global concern, Chen said.

"The Amazon not only belongs to Brazilians, but to mankind as a whole," Chen said.

The exploration is a part of a cooperative agreement signed by science academies of China and Brazil in 2002. A Brazilian researcher will accompany the team, said Chen Siliang, director of the Center for International Scientific Exchange of the CAS.

(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2004)

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