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China Sets New Target for Afforestation
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China announced Thursday its ambitious plan to expand forest coverage by 8.6 million hectares along the Yangtze and Yellow rivers and other areas by 2010 to curb environmental deterioration.


"This is the target for the second stage of the country's project of natural forest protection," said Lei Jiafu, deputy-director of the State Forestry Administration, at a meeting in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeast China's Jilin Province.


The project was started in 1998 on a trial basis in the wake of the deluge that ravaged the Yangtze River and rivers in northeast China, which experts said could be mainly attributed to severe environmental damage in the catchment areas.


Since then, logging of natural forests has been banned and major afforestation efforts have been launched in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers.


The project was officially launched in October, 2000, and has gradually expanded to 17 provinces at a cost of 43 billion yuan (US$5.2 billion), putting 94 million hectares of forest under effective protection.


Meanwhile, the acreage of afforestation had increased by three million hectares, with 4.7 million hectares of mountains and hills closed to human and domestic livestock activities, said Lei.


Lei said efforts would be taken over the next seven years to formulate regulations on forest protection and management to ensure the gradual establishment of a stable forest eco-system.


(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2003)

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