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50b yuan poured into Natural Forest Protection Project
( 2003-12-01 10:36) (People's Daily)

By the end of September 2003, China's central government and local governments had injected about 50 billion yuan (about 6.0 billion US dollars) into the Natural Forest Protection Project.

The Natural Forest Protection Project, which was launched on a trial basis in 1998, is now operational in 17 provinces in the country.

Ye Ronghua, engineer-in-chief of the Office for the Natural Forest Protection Project under the State Forestry Bureau said that by the end of September, the timber output of state-owned forest regions in northeast China and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region had dropped from 18.5 million cubic meters in 1997 to 10.9 million cubic meters.

At the same time, about 95.3 million hectares of natural forest had been protected. With the reduction of timber output, a large number of workers have converted to forest guardians over the past five years.

The number of forestry guardians has risen from 32,000 in 1998 to 193,000 and 660,000 redundant workers have been relocated by provincial governments.

But Lin said problems still exist. Nowadays, the infrastructure construction in forest regions is lagging and the income of forest workers is very low.

China's Natural Forest Protection Project has gained worldwide attention and support since its launch. The United Nations Development Program initiated a four-year technology assistance program for the natural forest protection project, with total investment of 2.5 million US dollars.

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