Published: Thursday 31 December 1998

An ambitious reforestation plan has been unveiled in China. All logging in non-commercial woodlands will be banned soon. State forestry bureau director Wang Zhibao said the plan would focus on reforestation along the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. "Forests will be re-classified into public-interest and commercial zones," he said. Commercial logging will be completely banned in regions classified public-interest, irrespective of whether they are natural forests or plantations.

All public-interest forests will eventually be listed as natural reserves, said Wang. He said the plan also aims to cut the rate of desertification, which eats into more than 2,400 square km of forest and farmland each year. Farmers who had developed land in public-interest forests would be relocated or compensated. "New plantations will be grown to provide fuel for farmers so they will no longer cut down trees in natural forests," said Wang.

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