The ecological environment along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest, has greatly improved following a campaign to protect its natural forest.
Since 1999, lumbering has been banned in the three Tibetan counties of Markam, Jomda and Gonjo, located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, leading 129 tree-fellers to become tree planters.
The regional government of Tibet has closed down 18 timber processing plants and three timber trading markets. It also called off the timber production quota set for the three counties.
According to the regional plan, the Qamdo Prefecture is responsible for the protection of 1.2 million hectares of natural forest on the upper reaches of the Yangtze. The prefecture has designated 2,715 farmers to protect against forest fires and pests and has also invested 9.72 million yuan (US$1.17 million) to build four sapling nurseries to breed spruce, thorn bushes, evergreens, poplars and other fine strains suited to high altitude.
To facilitate afforestation, Qamdo residents over the past two years have planted trees on 999 hectares and closed 4,666 hectares of mountain areas to livestock grazing.
When the campaign ends in 2010, the amount of land covered by forest in the three counties is expected to rise from the present 36.5 percent to 44.7 percent, a regional forest official said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 17, 2002)