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Historic trees need help in Changchun
( 2003-07-22 09:42) (China Daily)

Most of the historic trees in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province, are in urgent need of protection.

The city has a total of 16 historic trees, 10 of which need "special treatment," according to Yang Yuanxin, a senior official from the Changchun afforestation committee.

The trees' ages range from 70 years to over 500 years and most are willows, pines or elm.

There were once four willows, ranging in age from 70 years to over 200 years, in Shuangyang District of Changchun.

But two were cut down during road works in the first half of this year. And the remaining two are still vulnerable and lack even fences to protect them.

Another 200-year-old willow suffers from flooding and the occasional lightning strike every rainy season.

"I am really surprised by its longevity and vitality. But I am not sure how much longer the tree can survive," said Wang Jianguo, another official from local afforestation office.

"Its survival is due in large part to the care of old local residents. But this cannot be guaranteed in future," said Wang.

Willows reach old age in their 50s. "They are all old men and they need our help," Wang said.

The biggest menace to historic trees is aggressive urban expansion. The old trees give way to construction because of the absence of detailed tree-protection regulations, according to Yang.

And there is no special bureau charged with taking care of historic trees.

The annual nursing fee for one tree is around 10,000 yuan (US$1,209), which includes water, fertilizer and disease control, according to Zhao Liqun, an engineer from the committee.

"Government should pay the bill as these historic trees are witnesses to a city's development," said Zhao. "Once we lose them, we lose them forever."

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