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March 9, 2012

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More residents sought to maintain trees

EVERY year hundreds of thousands of trees in the city are waiting for residents or organizations to "claim" them for maintenance, but the claiming rate is far lower than officials would like, local greenery authorities said yesterday.

Last year the city offered nearly 90,000 trees for people to claim, but only 5,000 individuals and about 400 organizations applied for the work, said the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.

Under the city rule, individuals must pay at least 100 yuan (US$15.80) a year for the tree maintenance. They can do some easy work to keep the trees healthy, but the technical work will be done by professionals.

"We find people are still more interested in planting new trees than protecting the existed ones," said Li Li, an official with the bureau. "But in fact, because of limited land, it's almost impossible for residents to plant new trees in the city nowadays."

Ancient trees hundreds of years old, however, are very popular. The bureau said last year 220 ancient trees were claimed, and none of them were left behind, despite the fact that claiming an ancient tree is far more expensive than a common tree. Claiming an ancient tree costs at least 1,000 yuan a year for individuals, and 2,000 yuan for organizations.

"In recent years we have been promoting protection of ancient trees, and thus people's sense of taking care of ancient trees has awakened," Li said.

To mark the approaching Arbor Day, which falls on Monday, authorities are again soliciting the claiming of city trees. This year the city will offer 89,990 common trees, 258 ancient trees and 1.8 million square meters of greenery area for people to claim. All three figures are records.

People can also apply for planting new trees in some newly built parks and greenery areas, but the total area will cover only 250,000 square meters, said the bureau.


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