North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has set environmental protection as its priority task in a bid to build up an ecological shelter in the northern part of the country.
Due to its unique geographic location and general circulation models, Inner Mongolia holds a special position in the comprehensive ecological structure of China.
However, due to the climate and improper human activities, the environment of the autonomous region has seriously deteriorated in recent years.
According to estimates, desertification has been expanding at an annual rate of 660,000 hectares in recent years, resulting in strong sand storms, which have struck almost half of the country, including Beijing, since last year.
Local Party chief Liu Mingzu said that protecting the environment is an imperative task facing the Inner Mongolian people, and the country's current western development strategy has created favorable conditions to achieve this task.
According to the protection plan, the deterioration trend would be curbed by year 2005, the desertification and soil erosion would be brought under control by year 2010, and by mid-century, a green shelter composed of grasslands and forests would be built.