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Massive deforestation spurs action in Gansu

By Yang Wanli | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-03-19 15:50
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Reform plans have been made to treat a large-scale deforestation issue in Dunhuang in northwestern China's Gansu province after media reported on illegal plantings of grapes for profit in the city's forest farm, forestry authorities announced on Friday.

In January, Economic Information Daily conducted on-the-spot interviews, which showed that forest in the city's Yangguan Forest Farm has shrunk by more than half as it expanded its pillar industry of vineyards.

The forest, on the edge of the Kumtag Desert, played a significant role in preventing sandstorms, conserving water and soil, and safeguarding agriculture.

After the case was reported, vice-minister of ecology and environment Zhai Qing has led a supervision team to investigate it.

On Friday, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration jointly released an investigation report, which showed that forest area in the farm has dropped by 3,850 mu (about 256 hectares) in the past 30 years. And those deducted area was replaced by shrubbery, vineyards and other fruit trees.

During the period, land for vineyard and other fruit trees increased by 236 hectares. Of them, only 26.66 hectares vineyards and 11.13 hectares of Chinese dates were illegally planted by a local alcohol company between 2013 and 2014.

The report also confirmed the illegal use of forest land covering 6.65 hectares for the construction of road.

On-site investigation also identified seven places along the road in the farm with trees planted to fend off desertification being illegal logged.

The report also revealed that forest in several parts within the farm is severely threatened by drought, which resulted from the construction of dams and pools nearby.

The problem has led to the death of 13.33 hectares of tree and another 60 hectares of poplar woods are in dangerous situation due to the drought.

Several other problems were also found in the investigation, including embezzlement of government subsidies, illegal use of forest land through contracting with local companies for business purpose.

According to a notification released by the ministry and administration on Friday, reform plans have been made to treat those problems and illegal activities.

Gansu provincial government has sent a team to guide the reform. And an inspection team has also been organized to investigate cases of negligence or dereliction of duty, said the notification.

The two departments promised to strengthen their management and supervision work, further protecting the country's forest.

They also announced to conduct a nationwide research on the forest right registration and solve those problems left over by the history in a timely manner.

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