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Fund to Protect Immature Forests

Beijing will allocate an extra 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) this year to help protect the city's immature forests, governmental officials said yesterday.

In a move to improve Beijing's ecological environment, Beijing has intensified its efforts to upgrade the city's forest resources over the past two years, said Liu Zhihua, Beijing's vice-mayor, in a session of the Standing Committee of the 11th Beijing Municipal People's Congress yesterday.

The municipal government will be increasing investment in the protection of immature forest, following a call from deputies of the congress, the vice-mayor said.

A group of deputies of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, the city's top legislative and supervisory body, submitted a proposal earlier this year calling for better care of the city's immature forests.

Beijing has 512,000 hectares of forests. About 67 per cent of them are immature, according to government statistics.

Because of lack of protection and care, these forests have grown very slowly and have been damaged by plant diseases and insect pests.

In the past, the Beijing municipal government has only earmarked 900,000 yuan (US$108,000) each year for the care of its forested areas.

The proposal of the local people's congress aroused the concern of the local government and triggered investigation and study of the problem, Liu said.

As a result, the municipal government has decided to increase forest funding from 45 yuan (US$5.4) per hectare to 3,000 yuan (US$362) per hectare, Liu said.

Beijing aims to become a world-leading ecological city within the seven years leading up to the 2008 Olympics, in order to fulfil the city's "Green Olympics" promise.

According to newly released statistics from the Beijing Forestry Bureau, the Chinese capital added 2,866 hectares of green area this year to its urban forest areas and its urban isolation green belts, which surround the city's urban areas.

(China Daily November 30, 2001)

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