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China now tops in most `human-planted' trees on Earth
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-12 01:11

Tree-planting has become a way of living for Chinese people today with millions of citizens involved as volunteers making the country greener.

Trees planted in the spring are a bit of a tradition, marking the beginning of children's schooling, one's enrollment of colleague in army service, or for a wedding or as birthday commemoration.

Many trees are planted in special woodlands for civil servants, women professionals, model workers, journalists, and to Party members to help raise public awareness of environmental protection.

Tree-planting has also been widely adopted by people in many areas as a way to commemorate the dead, and to prevent well-cultivated land from being taken over.

"Each spring -- citizens have a duty to plant trees -- there will be dozens of places open to the public for tree planting in urban areas, particularly in metropolitan areas like Beijing and Shanghai," Zhou Lijun, an official with the National Afforestation Commission (NAC) in Beijing.

"The places, chosen according to the forest department's requirements, are suitable for growing trees, safe and easy to access," he added.

Most places provide free planting kits, and people can buy different kinds of saplings there for 20 to 40 yuan (US$2.40 to US$4.80) each for a little bit more.

In rural areas "planting more trees to get rich" has been very popular since farmers can sell some of their adult trees to make money and improve their living standard.

People are also allowed to pay for tree-planting if they are too busy to attend afforestation season events, NAC experts say.

Over the past two decades, people from all walks of life have participated in tree-planting since China set March 12 as a National Tree Planting Day in 1979 and launched the national voluntary tree-planting campaign in earlier 1980s.

According to the 1981 resolution by China's top legislature on the campaign, every healthy Chinese citizen older than 11 has a duty of planting three to five trees each year without pay.

Last year, nearly 560 million people planted more than 2.5 billion trees throughout China. The accumulated efforts of volunteers reached 8.8 billion with more than 42 billion trees planted during the 1982-2003 period, NAC's statistics indicate.

To date, the area with human-planted trees across China has exceeded 46 million hectares, ranking it first in the world.

Better than that, the country's goal of afforestation on every waste-fill hill suitable for tree-planting has come true in a dozen provinces or a quarter of the total.

As a result, the national forest cover rate has been raised from less than 12 per cent years ago to the present 16.5.

In urban areas, the rate is nearly 30 per cent with national per capita parkland share close to 8 square metres.

A breakthrough was made last year in afforestation with a record 11 million hectares of land or 1 per cent of China's total territory either covered with trees or cordoned off for afforestation, the NAC announced on the eve of this year's tree-planting day.

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