BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- China announced Wednesday that it would continue and expand its forest protection program in the coming 10 years as part of an effort to safeguard the national ecological security and tackle climate change.
The program, first begun in 2000 in regions including the upstream of the Yangtze River, mid- and upper reaches of the Yellow River and the country's northeastern areas, had effectively improved local eco-systems, eased soil-erosion and protected the area's bio-diversity, according to a statement issued after a meeting of the State Council, the Cabinet.
Participants at the meeting, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, agreed to kick off the second phase of the program in the 2011-2020 period and add 11 more counties, cities and districts around the Danjiangkou Reservoir to the program.
Also, the government vowed to increase to 78 million mu (5.2 million hectares) of forest during the second phase of the program and planned to channel 219.5 billion yuan (33.16 billion U.S. dollars) from the central budget to fund the program during that period, the statement said.
Further, according to the statement, the government would continue the moratorium of chopping down natural forests along the upstream of the Yangtze River and the mid- and upper reaches of the Yellow River, as well as continue decreasing timber production in the northeastern regions and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
It also urged more efforts to enhance afforestation and improve the incomes of forest workers.