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Project to Rejuvenate Grasslands Launched in Xinjiang
China's westernmost Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has unveiled a large-scale grassland rejuvenation project for the Tianshan Mountains with the aim of restoring the overgrazed pasture to its original imposing looks.

The central government allocated 146 million yuan (US$17.6 million) for the project in the first half this year.

Under the plan by the autonomous regional department of animal husbandry, grasslands with an area of 2 million hectares will be restored at oases and plains of the Tianshan Mountains, which run east to west in the center of the region.

When the grasslands are ready to graze livestock, some of the natural pasturelands would be closed for three to five years and herding would be forbidden to allow rejuvenation, said Zhao Xinchun, head of the department's grassland division.

Xinjiang is one of the five major grassland areas in China, but 85 percent of the grasslands have deteriorated as a result of over-grazing. Such lands serve as the main source of sandstorms and soil erosion. The pastures have failed to sustain the growing demand in Xinjiang and the local government has to import large quantities of animal products from adjacent Qinghai and Gansu provinces.

(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2002)

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