About 1.3 million hectares of China's least productive farmland
is to be returned to forest this year, as part of a seven-year
project to increase forest coverage and improve the ecological
Li Yucai, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration,
signed agreements with 25 provincial governments Friday that define
their quotas and responsibilities in the project.
The priority this year was to stop farming on steep slopes with
an inclination grade of 25 or above, as well as on land that faced
a serious desertification risk, he said.
Local authorities must ensure that they leave enough land for
farmers so that they can at least grow enough food to feed
themselves, Li said.
Since the project started in 1999, about 22.93 million hectares
of farmland -- mostly on steep hills with serious soil erosion --
have been returned to forest, figures from the State Forestry
(Xinhua News Agency September 23, 2006)