Land reclaiming causes tree line to recede
( 2003-07-30 09:22) (China Daily)
The tree line along forests in the southern part of the Greater Hinggan Mountains has receded by at least 200 kilometres due to excessive land reclamation in the latter part of the 20th century, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
The shrinking of forest area in the Greater Hinggan Mountains has led to soil erosion and the drying-up of riverbeds, the report said.
In the Baoshan village of the Morin Dawa Daurzu League, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, an area that was once covered with lush vegetation has since vanished, according to local shepherd Lan Bowen who was quoted in the report.
Rivers in the village used to be only 6 to 7 metres wide and filled with water year-round, but now they dry up if there is no rain and are as wide as 100 metres if it rains, Lan said.
Zhou Kuiwei, vice-director of the environmental protection bureau of the Greater Hinggan Group, said 200 kilometres is a conservative estimate to describe how much the tree line in the southern Greater Hinggan region has retreated, the report said.
In the Oroqen League of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the area of cultivated land has reached nearly 5 million mu (333,000 hectares) while in 1964, the league was all covered by forests, according to local forestry officials.
To make matters worse, nearly 1 million mu (66,600 hectares) of plantation has been destroyed and turned into farmland, the authorities said.
A source with the State Forestry Administration said investigations will be carried out to find those responsible for the situation.
The source, who chose to remain anonymous, did not give more information on the matter.
The Greater Hinggan Mountains are among the key forest areas in China, and their southern region abounds with waterfalls and is perfect for farming.
In the past five decades, large quantities of forest in the region were destroyed and turned to farmland.
Although large-scale land reclamation is currently banned in the region, some farmers are still trying to expand their farmland and forests are therefore being destroyed little by little, the report said.
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