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Tuesday, November 16, 1999, updated at 09:06(GMT+8)
Culture More Investment for Shennongjia Nature Reserve

China will inject about 19 million yuan for the second phase construction of the Shennongjia State Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei Province.

During the second phase, construction of open-air protection and ecological monitoring facilities will be given priority, and basic water and power supplies and roads will be improved.

The second phase construction, approved by the State Forestry Administration, is scheduled to be finished by 2003. Located in the northwestern part of Hubei Province, Shennongjia State Nature Reserve is one of the country's five major nature reserves listed for construction.

Local officials believe that implementation of the second phase project will not only greatly improve the protection of Shennongjia -- China's most important gene bank of animal and plant species -- but also produce a favorable and significant impact on the Three Gorges water control project located just 35 km away from the nature reserve.

Protection of forest resources at Shennongjia will help improve the ecological system in nearby areas by reducing the amount of silt in the Three Gorges reservoir area. The second phase project will also create good conditions for improving tourism at the Nature Reserve, which will in turn raise funds for protection efforts. From January to September this year about 300,000 people visited the reserve, said Xie Dengfeng, a local official.

Starting from 1982, some 19 million yuan has been spent on building outside protection networks and ecological monitoring systems at Shennongjia. As a result, some rare and endangered animals and plant species have markedly increased.

In 1982, there were only 500 golden monkeys at Shennongjia but the number has risen to 760 in 1998. A new golden monkey domestication and propagation center, the first of its kind in the world, is being built at the nature reserve to protect and look after golden monkeys.

In the past decade, Chinese scientific researchers have found 32 new plant species at the Reserve, including five endangered species.

Covering an area of 70,000 hectares, Shennongjia State Nature Reserve has a favorable climate and has a diversity of plant and animal species. The Reserve has more than 3,000 kinds of plants and about 500 kinds of vertebrates. Thirty-four species of plants and seventy species of animals are listed under state protection. (Xinhua)

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