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River to Be More Beautiful, Cultural

East China's Shandong Province will improve its Yellow River area by planting trees and grass on the river's 628-kilometre embankment in the province.


It will also build natural and cultural scenic spots on a 14-kilometre section in Jinan, capital of the province.


"We will add another 5,666 hectares of green belt land along the river by 2010, planting aspens, willows, gingkoes, and other trees. Vegetation coverage has now reached 3,666 hectares," Pei Mingsheng, an official with Shandong Yellow River Affairs Office, told China Daily.


By the end of the decade the number of trees along the river's banks in Shandong will reach 35.6 million, compared with the current 13.24 million.


"Forestation and vegetation along the river will improve the section's ecosystem, contribute to preventing water loss and soil erosion, and allow us to show off the river's social, ecological and economic benefits," Pei said.


"It will also be a barometer for the effectiveness of the Yellow River's conservation efforts."


Pei said the province has decided to accelerate the expansion of green belt land along the river's embankment.


As China's second largest river, the Yellow River has the world's highest sand density.


In Dongying, in Shandong, the last city the river passes before it enters the sea, local officials have introduced a group of tree and grass species that can weather the highly saline-alkaline soil in the river estuary. Statistics show that 80 percent of trees planted last year have survived.


The Dongying experience has set an example for Jinan to follow in its efforts to make the Yellow River embankment greener.


In the second part of the plan to set up a special ecological protection area in the Jinan section of the river, the municipal government has carved out a 280-square kilometer area for the project.


It is expected to be integrated with the nearby historical sites of Huashan Hill and Queshan Hill, forming a mixed Yellow River culture belt.


A total of four ecological cultural scenic districts are to be set up in the area, based along a 14-kilometre stretch of the river.


According to the plan, scenic spots with symbolic meanings, such as the Yellow River Pavilion and the Mother River sculptures, will be scattered along the banks.


Pei said he hopes that upon construction the Yellow River green belt will become another hot tourism attraction, next to Shandong's renowned seaside scenic spots, Taishan Mountain and Qufu Confucius historical sites.


(China Daily March 28, 2005)

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