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Scientific Investigation Launched to Protect Plants in Three Gorges
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China on Saturday launched a large-scale scientific investigation into plants in Three Gorges, which would collect 28,000 specimens in three years.

A team of nine scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) arrived here on Saturday as the first batch of more than 60 scientists who are expected to join the investigation.

"The investigation is the largest of its kind in Three Gorges, and would provide reliable reference for the protection of plants and the ecological environment," said Li Liangqian, chief researcher of the CAS Institute of Botany.

New plant communities are expected to be found during the investigation, which would enrich the botanical resources of China and boost the development of medical and gene sciences, according to Li.

The scientists conducted the scientific investigation under the request of the Office of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee of the State Council in April.

The Three Gorges Project, the world's largest water control facility, is located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze, China's longest river, with a 185-meter-high dam, completed in June last year, and a five-tier ship lock.

The project was Launched in 1993 and built at an estimated cost of 180 billion yuan.

However, rare plant species face extinction after water level rises in the wake of the operation of Three Gorges reservoir.

Research institutes in Chongqing and Hubei Province have done some investigations in the area, which were confined to certain areas with a small scale.

"I am happy to see the investigation. Rare plants get chances to survive," said Xiang Xiufa, who operated a botanic park of rare plants of Three Gorge in Chongqing that went bankrupt in June.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2007)

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