A stone tablet inscribed with a decree on ecological protection issued by Emperor Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) has been discovered near the imposing Great Wall in north China's Shaanxi Province.
Found at the cross of Bachakou near Shuozhou city, the tablet, measuring 1.6 meters high and one meter wide, was erected in 1549 on a hillside several dozen kilometers from the Yanmen Pass on the ancient Great Wall, according to inscriptions on it.
The decree of about 700-character banned tree-felling and called for efforts to restore pastures or return farmland to woodlands. It also warned those in violation of the decree would be dealt with harshly and exiled to remote regions.
Officials who resorted to fraudulent practices against the decree would be punished severely, it said.
Also inscribed on the tablet, or stele, were the names of those officials in charge of implementing and supervising the emperor's edicts.
The decree also refereed to building a mountain pass to reinforce defenses.
The vast areas to the north of where the tablet was found, archaeologists noted, were where nomads moved about and frequent wars occurred in ancient times.
Archaeologists deduced from the decree that Emperor Jiajing attached great importance to afforestation not only to protect the environment but also for military purposes.
The discovery was of vital significance in the study of the Ming Dynasty military history in areas along the ancient Great Wall, they noted.
(People's Daily January 3, 2002)