China plans great-scale environment-saving programme
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China earmarks 230 billion yuan, an equivalent of 27.7 billion doillars, for a 33-year environmental programme for basins of the Yangtze and Huang Ho rivers, where Chinese civilisation has its origins. Over 60 per cent of this fund is to be appropriated by the central government and the rest from budgets of provinces and cities located in the basins of China's two main rivers, a total region of 2.5 million square kilometres. Statistics indicate that over a half of gross domestic product comes from the Yangtze and Huang Ho basins. The Chinese government has generated the environmental programme with the huge investment as a rescue measure. With 26.6 per cent of of China's arable being in Yangtze and Huang Ho valleys, a threatening 40 per cent of the regions' water is polluted and of their land erosion-affected because of rapid industrialisation. Under recommendations of scientists, 26 million hectares of forest is to be planted in the two regions by 2003 to halt land erosion in 60 per cent of the especially prone territory. In addition, "ten key projects" are planned, including the creation of three protective forest belts in northen and northeastern China. The projects will involve 70 per cent of China's territory. The government also laid out measures to protect available woodlands of national importance. Environmentalists warned that their destruction to economic ends would have left national natural resources with irreparable damage.

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