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Beijing uses trees to hold back encroaching sands

(People's Daily Online)

10:46, August 08, 2011

Beijing has afforested nearly 3,700 square kilometers of land in its northern suburb counties over a 10-year period, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry.

The construction of a 200-kilometer forest belt has been completed surrounding Beijing and Tianjin, which will act as the front line of defense for sand storms and dust.

Under the Beijing and Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Planning, the shelter belt will cover Beijing's six suburban districts and counties: Changping, Mentougou, Huairou, Pinggu, Miyun and Yanqing.

The shelter forest will mainly combat local winds carrying sand from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi and Hebei provinces and also aims at local sandstorm source control.

Historic achievements have been made in the past 10 years: Comprehensive treatments were carried out on 439 square kilometers of grasslands and a 2,010-square-kilometer small watershed was achieved. More than 4,700 water-saving irrigation and water resources projects have been completed and nearly 12,500 people relocated, said Gan Ging, deputy director of Beijing Capital Greening Commission.

The planning has greatly improved the local environment. Figures from the bureau show that the Beijing urban greening rate and forest cover rate are 71.35 percent and 51.75 percent, respectively, and increase of 14 percent and 10 percent over year 2000 figures. The accumulated days for air quality level II and above have hit a 10-year-record high of 286 days, accounting for 78.4 percent of the whole year.

Forestry has also become an important approach to enriching farmers. According to the bureau's statistics, the planning has brought a tourism income of 9 billion yuan and an annual 14.9 percent increase in peasants' income to 10,971 yuan.

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