The rights to mount plaques beside four ancient trees aged about 1,000 years were sold for a total of 128,000 yuan at an auction held in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
The auctioneer says that the money raised will be used to maintain and protect the city's endangered ancient trees.
Buyers are given the right, valid for three years, to inscribe a brief history of "their" tree and of themselves on a plaque which will then be mounted on the fence around the tree.
Representatives from over ten local and overseas companies attended the auction. Shaanxi Hongda Law Office spent 45,000 yuan buying the plaque rights to two trees.
The representatives of the Law Office said that they were happy to make a contribution to the city in this way.
Xi'an, six times the capital in the long history of China, is rich in ancient trees.
Over the years the local government has taken various measures to protect these trees, including recording their history and erecting notices warning citizens not to damage the trees.
However, as trees age it is inevitable that they will be affected by disease and the expense of treating these diseases has often been beyond the means of the local government. The idea of an auction was to encourage all the sectors of society to donate money for the ailing trees.
(Xinhua News Agency May 4, 2002)