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50 Billion Yuan Invested in Western Forest Belts
China has invested 50 billion yuan in ecological construction and environmental protection in its western area with marked results in the last three years.

Li Zibin, deputy director of the State Council Office of Western Development, said at a press conference at the first plenary session of the 10th NPC that China will quicken the work and ensure that there will be a breakthrough in the eco-environment in the west by 2010.

He said that a total of 7.69 million hectares of farmland had been returned to forested or grass land whenever it is ecologically necessary by the end of 2002. Over the past three years, more than 20 billion yuan have been appropriated to subsidize such efforts of the farmers in terms of food grains, saplings and cash.

China will accelerate the work in the coming decade and expects to have another 14.6 million hectares of farmland on hill slopes, vulnerable to water and soil erosion, returned to forested or grass land and plant trees on 17.3 million hectares of barren hills. It is planned to have 3.36 million hectares of land returned to forested or grass land and plant trees on 3.76 million hectares of barren hills in 2003. China will first tackle 66 million hectares of seriously eroded grassland in the coming five years by sealing off parts of the grazing grounds in rotation and asking the herdsmen to raise their stocks in pens. It is planned to have 6.6 million hectares of such grassland sealed off from grazing in 2003.

In the meantime, China will work to promote capital farmland construction, rural energy construction, resettlement, restructuring of agriculture and livestock breeding to ensure ecological balance and the farmers' long-term livelihood in the west.

(www.cenews.com.cn March 17, 2003)

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