The central government of China and the government of southwestern Chongqing Municipality will make a total investment of 769 million yuan (about 93 million US dollars) in three years from 2004 to 2007 to build a tree belt along the banks of the Three Gorges Reservoir.
The afforestation project is expected to significantly reduce the amount of sand washed into the reservoir, purify the water of the reservoir and enrich tourism to the reservoir, according to the 41st executive meeting of the Chongqing municipal government held on Tuesday.
According to the programming of the State Development and Reform Commission, the afforestation project will cover 179,600 hectares in 22 districts and counties of Chongqing Municipality. A total of 88,200 hectares of trees will be planted on sloping farmland, barren hills and other areas where trees can grow.
Upon completion, the project should hold more than six million tons of silt from being washed into the reservoir annually. It will also contribute tremendously to the normal operation of the Three Gorges project, a massive hydraulic project being built on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the longest river in China.
Previously, China has kicked off two afforestation projects for the improvement of the ecological environment in areas around the reservoir. By the end of 2003, China has harnessed some 10,000 square kilometers of soil-eroded areas.
As a result, local forest coverage rate has improved markedly, according to local officials.