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China Builds Large Botanical Garden to Rescue Endangered Plants
A botanical garden designed to be the world's largest is under construction in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, as the country doubles its efforts in rescuing endangered rare plants.

With a projected land area of 458 square kilometers, the Qinling Botanical Garden built by the Xi'an Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences will protect a total of 6,100 rare plant species.

This means that apart from the 3,200 types of indigenous plants already under protection, some 900 temperate plant species and 2,000 tropical and subtropical plant species will be introduced.

Huang Hongwen, director of the Wuhan Botany Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that within the next 15 years, the number of rare plant species protected by the academy's 12 affiliated botanical gardens will be raised from the present 13,000 to 21,000.

Moreover, the academy plans to invest 300 million yuan (about US$36.14 million) on the collection of endangered rare plants and the establishment of gene pools in different climatic zones.

Currently, around 10 percent of the world's most advanced plants, or 31,000 kinds, can be found in China. Of them, a range of 4,000 to 5,000 are endangered.

"The extinction of plants will not only damage the ecology but also affect people's normal production and life," Huang said.

According to Huang, around one-fourth of the world's pharmaceuticals are extracted directly from plants or made with plants as the raw materials.

However, owing to the deteriorating natural environment and human interference, many plant species have become extinct over the past decades.

To rescue those endangered plants and secure biodiversity, Huang said, the academy hoped to team up with the country's 140 botanical gardens to provide better protection to the total of 30,000 advanced plant species in China.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2003)

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