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China mulls planting shelter forests against tsunami
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-20 17:25:30

    By Xinhua Writer Meng Na

    HAIKOU, May 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Since the tsunami hit southeast Asian countries late last year, the Chinese government and academia have begun to consider what has to do if a tsunami with the same intensity hit China.

    This week, a national forum on shelter forest planting was heldin Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province. The participants decided that China should not only depend on the construction of the earthquake and tsunami forecast systems but also rely on the offshore shelter forests.

    The monstrous tsunami on last Dec. 26, killed 174,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. However, Thailand's Ranong areas were almost unaffected by the tsunami, thanks for the resistance by the luxuriant offshore mangrove forests there.

    China had similar experiences. In 1996, the Leizhou peninsula, located near south China's Hainan Province, was hit by a violent typhoon, causing economic losses of more than 10 billion yuan. The counties of Doulun and Jinbang were unaffected, because they were protected by a mangrove belt with width of 40 to 160 meters.

    China has 11 coastal provinces and municipalities and they boast of China's most economically-developed areas. In year 2004 alone, the GDP total of the 11 provinces and municipalities reached 9.45 trillion yuan, accounting for 69.3 percent of the country's total.

    It is these areas that are also most frequently hit by tsunamis and typhoons.

    Statistics released by the State Forestry Bureau showed that China planted 3.82 million hectares of shelter forests along the coastal water over past ten years. This increased forest coverage from 24.9 percent to 35.5 percent and extending the country's total shelter forests length to 17,000 kilometers.

    Despite the progress, China's shelter forests are still inadequate to resist strong typhoons or tsunami,Chinese experts said. Some local governments chopped down mangroves along the coast and destroying shelter forests for the dyke construction.

    Statistics show that China had more than 60,000 hectares of mangroves in 1950's, but the area of mangrove forests has shrunk to 20,000 hectares currently.

    Zhou Shuxian, head of the State Forestry Bureau said at the forum that the protection and planting of the shelter forests along the coastal water is of great significance to the security of sovereignty and ecology. China should, build up a luxuriant shelter forest belt along its coastline to help resist typhoons and tsunamis. Enditem

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