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Wednesday, November 08, 2000, updated at 09:00(GMT+8)

China to Accelerate Afforestation Drive

China will quicken its afforestation drive in a move to improve the deteriorating eco-environment across the country, said a senior expert in Shanghai Tuesday.

At the ongoing 2000 Shanghai Forum of Science and Technology, Prof. Jiang Zehui, president of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, expressed her admiration of the achievements in afforestation and eco-environmental construction in the past decade, which has been oriented towards constructing city forests, planting trees along rivers, lakes, railways and highways, as well as anti- desertification in the western part of the country.

However, Prof. Jiang pointed out that the deterioration of the eco-environment in China, as a whole, has not been under complete control, the construction has lagged far behind the destruction of the eco-environment and currently China has one of the most fragile eco-environment's in the world.

Statistics show that soil-eroded areas have expanded to 1.79 million sq. km and desertified areas have reached 2.62 million sq. km and continue to expand by 2,400 sq. km annually. In addition, 15-20 percent of plant species is on the verge of extinction.

According to Jiang, eco-environmental protection has become a vital factor that affects the sustainable development of the national economy and other social undertakings.

As for the long-term objective of China's efforts, Prof. Jiang held that it should include the establishment of a high-quality and efficient system in afforestation, forestry management, forestry safety assurance and eco-environmental supervision.

Professor Jiang concluded her presentation by pointing out that afforestation in cities should stress the ecological benefits rather than to solely contribute to scenery-development.

At present, forest coverage in China stands at 16.5 percent, lagging far behind countries with dense natural forest. In terms of man-made forests, China ranks first in the world, with a combined area of 45 million hectares.

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China will quicken its afforestation drive in a move to improve the deteriorating eco-environment across the country.

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