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China Sets Up Databank on Wetlands

China recently established a special databank on its vast marshes and wetlands at the Northeast China Institute of Geographic and Agricultural Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The China Marsh and Wetland Databank is an academic achievement with its own intellectual property rights, say local experts.

Wetlands are lakes, marshes and shallows which are dubbed "nature's kidneys". Their function is to store water, prevent floods and dilute pollution, according to experts.

In 1990, the institute began constructing the databank and resolved a series of key technical problems, according to Zhang Shuqing who is in charge of the project.

China, with its complicated geographic environment and diversified climate, ranks first in Asia in terms of its area, number and varieties of wetland, according to Zhang.

China also ranks fourth in the world for its overall area of wetland, which accounts for 11 percent of the world's total.

China's wetlands cover 63 million hectares, where 1,540 plants grow, and 1,500 animals live including aquatic fowls, according to official figures. Many of the plants and animals are endangered species.

(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2002)

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