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Forest Coverage Soars
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China's forest coverage has risen constantly for almost two decades, increasing the nation's contribution to the world's carbon dioxide absorption, Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), said yesterday.

The world's forested area decreased by about 0.2 percent annually or 9.39 million hectares between 1990 and 2000, said Zhu, citing statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

However, forests in China had been growing by 1.2 percent or 1.81 million hectares every year in the same period, the highest growth rate in the world, Zhu said at a press conference in Beijing.

The expanding forests had enabled the country to absorb more carbon dioxide every year.

Experts estimated carbon dioxide absorbed by China's forests had risen from 470 million tons in 1990 to more than 500 million tons currently.

China led the world in forestation with 54 million hectares of cultivated forest, according to SFA chief Jia Zhibang.

Since the drive for voluntary tree-planting and forestation 26 years ago, Chinese people had planted 49.2 billion trees, he added.

The country's forest coverage was 18.21 percent or 175 million hectares, and its commodity timber coverage stood at 13.6 billion cubic meters, which would grow by 500 million cubic meters annually, Jia said.

Research showed every new cubic meter of forest absorbed 1.83 tons of carbon dioxide and emitted 1.62 tons of oxygen on average.

(Xinhua News Agency July 18, 2007)

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