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Compensation System Called for to Save West China Environment

The construction of an ecological compensation system in western China was called for by experts at a meeting about the recycling based economy (RBE).


"Only after a cost of ecological protection is compensated for damages by human activities, can the society gain a sustainable development eventually," said Cheng Xia, a professor from Chengdu Engineering University at the just-closed APEC conference on RBE and China's western development.


A fixed ecological compensation system will require resource users and beneficiaries to pay expenses to resource owners or protectors as compensation. This should support and encourage more responsibility in environmental protection in the west.


"Otherwise, the environment will further deteriorate," he emphasized at the conference held in Yinchuan, capital city of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.


Most of western China, including all five minority autonomous regions, is located in arid or semi-arid area. Currently, the vast western regions are still faced with growing ecological pressure caused by soil erosion, desertification and grassland degeneration.     


According to statistics, the acreage suffering soil erosion in west China has reached 2.825 million square kilometers, 77 percent of the national total.


Qinghai Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, both boasting China's major pastures, have seen serious degeneration of grassland, with the affected area reaching 4.4 million hectares and 9.73 million hectares.


Since Chinese government launched western development strategy in 2000, a total of 110 billion yuan (around US$13.3 billion) has been invested in the ecological environment protection in West China.


By the end of 2004, some 118 million mu (7.9 million hectares) of cultivated land in these areas were returned to woodland while more than 170 million mu (11 million hectares) of wasteland were replanted.


According to experts, state financial support, key afforestation projects and taxes imposed specially to be used for ecological protection are the three main channels, through which compensation fund can be raised.


Mao Rubai, chairman of Environment and Resources Protection Committee of China's National People's Congress, said at the meeting that some compensation principles like "who benefits, whocompensates; who damages, who recovers; who pollutes, who cleans" have been recognized by the society.


He said, ecological compensation system could help balance interests of different sides in rebuilding green western China.


Zhang Lijun, deputy director of the State Environment Protection Administration, suggested that China could refer to other countries or organizations in establishing an ecological compensation system.


"Western provinces should cooperate with international organizations in this field as extensively as possible," said the official.


(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2005)

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