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Conservation projects launched
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08:57, January 15, 2009

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Yunnan province, which has the most species and ecosystem varieties in China, is adopting new biodiversity protection measures.

The new approach relies on nongovernmental organizations to run 10 conservation projects for rare species, particularly those with dangerously small populations, former director of the Yunan provincial forestry department Chen Jihai said.

The Yunnan green environment development foundation, of which Chen is acting chairman, will provide a 50,000-yuan ($7,000) grant for each program from its Biodiversity Conservation Small Grants Project. The projects will help preserve dolphin deer, the Chinese manglietiastrum (Manglietiastrum sinicum) - a rare flowering plant endemic to Yunnan - and the biodiversity in Meili Snow Mountain, Chen said yesterday.

The provincial government spent more than 10 million yuan on biodiversity protection last year.

However, more of the money went to building infrastructure than to protecting rare species, Chen said.

"We want to use the current project to mobilize all sectors in the province, including NGOs, enterprises and residents, to contribute to the conservation of endemic flora and fauna," he said, adding that Yunnan has 33 rare plant species - more than any other province.

The foundation was jointly founded by the Yunnan provincial forestry department, Shanshui center for nature and society (Conservation International) and the nature conservancy on July 2 last year.

Director of Conservation International's Chengdu office Li Shengzhi said the move marked the first time government-underwritten grants had been offered for conservation projects in Yunnan. Making these grants easily accessible will help local organizations and individuals protect rare wildlife, Li added.

Li Xiaoping, director of the research institute of Indesen snowy mountains nature reserve in Lincang, who has worked to protect the reserve's dolphin deer, said the money was crucial to their efforts.

"We have been keeping track of the reserve's five or six dolphin deer since last year," he said.

"With the money, we are now able to undertake field surveys and start monitoring next week after some basic training."

He said the reserve is now China's only known dolphin deer distribution region.

Currently, only five Chinese manglietiastrum trees grow wild in Xichou county. The foundation hopes to artificially pollinate them, Chen said.

"Otherwise, if the five trees died, we would lose the species entirely," he said.

The Deqin county-based Meili snow mountain holy site culture and biodiversity protection project intends to raise local awareness about protecting biodiversity through planting Chinese herbs and trees, Chen said.

Source: China Daily

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