China will invest a total of 9 billion yuan (US$1.11 billion) in the protection of its shrinking wetlands from 2006 to 2010, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) announced yesterday.
The State Council has earlier approved a special national implementation program to that effect, which signals the official start of the wetland protection projects, SFA's spokesperson Cao Qingyao said.
The fund will be used to initiate four key projects in the aspects of protection, restoration, sustainable use demonstration and capacity construction of the wetland, he said.
Cao said China will manage to offer effective protection for half of its natural wetlands and 70 percent of the important wetlands by 2010 and basically form a wetland protection system.
According to SFA statistics in 2004, China had a total 38.48 million hectares of wetlands, calculating only those with an area exceeding 100 hectares.
The figures include 36.2 million hectares of natural wetlands and 2.28 million artificially formed ones.
To date, 473 wetland protection zones have been established, helping protect 45 percent of the country's natural wetlands.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2006)