As spring draws closer and closer, people in the Chinese capital have started to wonder how many sandstorms they will experience in the coming season.
To deal with the destructive weather, the Chinese government has spared no efforts over the last few years, the most noteworthy of which is the Beijing and Tianjin sandstorm source control program sponsored by the State Administration of Forestry.
The administration recently decided to work out a series of policies to boost the program and reduce sandstorm attacks on Beijing and Tianjin municipalities.
The sandstorm source control program officially began in March 2000, with a planned investment of 55.87 billion yuan (6.75 billion US dollars). It covers 75 counties in Hebei and Shanxi provinces, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, with a total area of 458,000 square kilometers.
When the program is completed in a planned period of 10 years, 205,000 square kilometers of desert and soil-eroded land would be turned green, according to an administration official.
To date, a total of 2.28 million hectares of such land have been tackled, 1.4 million hectares of woods have been planted and 2.1 million hectares of new grassland and forestry have emerged inthe regions covered by the program. The overall ecological conditions in the regions have begun to improve gradually.
However, it has become harder and harder to carry out the program, said Zhu Kelie, deputy director of the administration.
To reduce and relieve sandstorm attacks on the Chinese capital as soon as possible, it is imperative to readjust policies for desertification control and afforestation under the program.
New policies will include permission for individuals to enjoy the same state subsidies for afforestation as economic entities ofdifferent ownership.
Under the sandstorm source control program, between 2001-2010 atotal of 2.63 million hectares of fragile farmland will be converted to woods, 4.94 million hectares of land will be forested,and 10.63 million hectares of land will be covered by grass.