To protect and improve the local environment, greater efforts should be made in forestry management and pollution control, said government officials in Yan'an, a city in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
"The officials, led by our mayor, checked to see if any forestry was damaged as a media report had described, and they found that some trees in farmland and orchards were cut down," said Zhang Keyuan, an official of the Forestry Administrative Section of Yan'an Forestry Bureau.
The forestry official told China Daily last week that sterner measures should be introduced to control the trend of tree cutting by local farmers and migrants.
Yan'an, located on the Loess Plateau, had long suffered from soil erosion, and locals have been planting trees in an effort to improve natural conditions.
After a decade-long effort, more than 8,000 hectares of forestry have been created. This forms three 24-kilometre long and 1.5-kilometre wide green belts that protect the city from soil erosion and desertification, the official said.
With rapid economic development and an increasingly large migrant population travelling to the city because it is an important production base for coal, oil and gas, trees were cut for sale and heating. The forestry was also threatened by a change of management, said Wu Yanjun, official of Yan'an Tourism Bureau.
In 2000, the local government handed management of the forestry over to a tourism company under Wu's bureau, thinking it was better for the development of tourism and the forestry, Wu said.
But since the company is not a governmental department, it does not have administrative power to punish degradation of the forestry and finds it difficult to manage the forestry well, the tourism official said.
The local government became aware of the problem and decided to return management rights to the forestry bureau to make tree-protection measures more effective, said Yan'an municipal government official Zhao Xiansheng.
"The management rearrangement needs some time because it is closely related to people's lives and properties," the official said.
Furthermore, the local government has also made an effort to control pollution during crude oil production, and it developed a five-year plan to improve the environment, said Liu Qiming, director of the pollution control section of Yan'an Environment Protection Bureau.
(China Daily June 21, 2006)