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Ancient Flora Protected By Modern Fauna
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With more old trees being destroyed by disease, insects and urban encroachment, a new campaign is underway to improve protection for old and rare trees.


"Trees which are rarely seen and over 100 years old with value in terms of scientific research, culture and history, will all be under protection after their identification in the near future," said Lu Shaokun, an official with the Guangzhou Municipal Utilities and Landscaping Bureau, last week.


Funds are being spent on getting rid of tree-damaging insects and diseases, while building developers are being stopped from setting up construction sites in the vicinity of old trees.


Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, currently has 842 registered old and rarely-seen trees, currently having their nameplates replaced.


"This is to better recognize old trees with a more uniform system," said Lu, adding that all current nameplates for trees date back to the 1980s.


According to Lu, between 1985 and 2004 the city conducted four campaigns to identify old trees. It recognized 917 but only 842 have survived to this day.


According to Lu, around 200 more trees will be protected under the new identification campaign by the end of the year, adding that estimations put the total of trees in need of protection in Guangzhou alone at 10,000.


The city's Liwan District is one of the most populated areas for such trees. Around 266 of them have been identified in the district, accounting for nearly one third of the city's current total.


"These trees all have a history of more than 100 years, with the oldest being 895 years old," Lu stated.


However, 18 percent of the trees are being destroyed by white ants, furthering the crisis facing ancient types of flora. 14 percent of old trees are also threatened by downtown city expansion, sources with Lu's bureau said.


"These trees will gradually die of little living space if they are not immediately protected," Lu said. “Guangzhou will earmark more than 1 million yuan (US$125,000) annually to protect old trees.”  


The city has established a digital network collecting information on old trees to ensure the money flow goes where it is most needed.


(China Daily September 4, 2006)

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