Initiative to protect pastures approved

Updated: 2011-08-13 07:55

(China Daily)

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HULUN BUIR, Inner Mongolia - Ninety percent of China's 400 million hectares of grassland are deteriorated to some degree, an agricultural official said, referring to the protection of grasslands as an "extremely pressing task."

Gao Hongbin, vice-minister of agriculture, was speaking at a national work conference on the protection of pasturelands. Officials came to an agreement at the conference to spend the next 10 years revamping China's deteriorating pastures by prioritizing environmental protection.

Gao's call came on the heels of a government circular that said the government will make efforts to protect the environment and increase economic growth in pasturelands, the deterioration of which have lead to desertification and sandstorms.

The State Council published a circular on Tuesday promising tax breaks and funding for enterprises in rural areas that have made efforts to establish environmentally friendly programs, as well as those that have made technological innovations in the field.

The government will also provide subsidies for cattle herders in North and Northwest China, because they will not be allowed to let their cattle graze on severely damaged grasslands.

China has more than 4 million square kilometers of pasturelands, more than 40 percent of the country's total area.

Desertification is estimated to cause direct economic losses of 54 billion yuan ($8.44 billion) annually, Tang Yuan, a researcher from a State Council think tank, said previously in an interview with Xinhua.