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July 31, 2010

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Planting a forest in Gansu

SHANGHAI volunteers will help plant a forest in harsh and arid Gansu Province to fight off desertification.

By next June, the trees will cover almost 67 hectares in Qingyang City in the far eastern tip of the province in China's far west. Then they will have to be carefully watered, pruned and maintained.

The Expo Shanghai Low-Carbon Forest Project was recently launched by Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, Shanghai Water Resources Protection Foundation, Tongji University and Qingyang local government.

The forest will be in the city's Tianshuibao Town in Huan County near the G211 Expressway (Yinchuan-Xi'an). Suitable hardy trees will be planted, including poplars, pagoda trees, hawthorn, pine, cypress and many other varieties.

The investment totals 8.9 million yuan (US$1.3 million).

Over the next 30 years, the forest is expected to absorb about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Another part of the project is the introduction of devices to collect rain water in the drought-stricken Loess Plateau and to purify the bitter and salty ground water. These will be part of a pilot project.

Huan County is known for its severe desertification.

Its annual per capita water consumption is only 568 cubic meters, less than a quarter of the national average. Worse, 63 percent of the available water is flood water and 34 percent non-potable salty water.

Forest is scarce and drying up due to incursions of the desert. Forest coverage in the county is only 5.8 percent (the world's average is 25 percent).

Nine out of the last 10 years have been drought years and improper land reclamation by farmers has resulted in more desertification.

More than 1,713 square kilometers, 18.6 percent of the country, are desert.

Every year the desert claims 23.3 square hectares.


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