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Economic powerhouse goes green
( 2003-09-09 09:20) (China Daily)

The nation's economic powerhouse is planning to shed its grey image as a concrete jungle and build a city of trees and grass.

The Shanghai Agriculture and Forestry Bureau and Shanghai Urban Planning and Administrative Bureau has worked out details of a tree-planting plan, which is waiting for final approval by the government.

Shanghai aims to cover 20 per cent of its total area with forests by 2005 and 25 per cent by 2010 in the "urban woodland" campaign, which will cost US$2.4 million per square kilometre.

By 2020, the forested area of the city is expected to reach 2,000 square kilometres.

"This is a reasonable amount of forestation for Shanghai if its wants to be considered as an environmental city which aims to maintain a sustainable development and seek harmony between humans and nature," said Yin Ou, deputy office director of the forestry administration.

By 2020, the city's population will grow up to 20 million, meaning that forestation is vital in order to relieve the "heat island effect" and generate enough oxygen.

By the end of 2003, the percentage of forested land will grow to 16 per cent, from 9.2 per cent in 2000.

Since 2000, the city has been increasing the percentage of its forested area by 2 percentage points a year, but Shanghai still lingers far behind domestic peers like Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

"By forests, we mean huge patches or long belts of trees instead of grasslands or small groves in parks," said Yin.

There will be belts of trees with the width of 500 metres and above planted along the A3 - the city's 200-kilometre-long suburban ring road - and other major expressways and rivers such as the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek.

A 1,000-1500-metre-wide shelter belt of trees will be planted along the coasts of Chongming Island, Hengsha Island, Changxing Island and Hangzhou Bay, significantly improving the environment, preserving the water resources and guarding the city against typhoons, said Yin.

In the city's outskirts and suburbs, 16 forests will be planted.

Yin also revealed the land will come mainly from farmers who will be transferred to work in the forestry sector in order to provide them with a better standard of living, with this project depending largely on State financial support.

Private investment will also be sought with the prospect of attractive returns.

The city will launch the campaign soon in order to achieve a great leap forward in its environment, benefiting generations to come.

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