Sowing the seeds of a successful future
Over the past three years, the 'Forest Chongqing' project has mobilised 58.27 million volunteers who have planted 290 million trees.
As a result, the forest area has increased from 34 per cent in 2008 to 37 per cent. In terms of forest coverage, Chongqing now ranks 13th among all mainland municipalities and cities, and third in western China. The project is one of the municipal government's 10 schemes to improve the people's livelihood. The goal is to create tree-plantation areas totalling 1.67 million hectares within five years, increasing the coverage of forest areas from 34 per cent to 45 per cent.
Last year, Chongqing invested 13.3 billion yuan (HK$15.9 billion) in the plantation project. It also provided job opportunities for 50 million farmers, who earned 2 billion yuan from the project.
According to Deng Donghua, deputy director of Chongqing Forest Industry Department, the project has been given a high priority by the city administration because it can meet the needs of Chongqing's economic and social development.
As Chongqing is a major production base for cars, it has a responsibility to contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and growing trees is an effective way, he says. Growing trees can also achieve a better balance in development between urban and rural areas, while reducing soil erosion in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, where the Chongqing government has already started a 'Green Changjiang' campaign. Deng says that, since the start of the project in 2008, Chongqing has completed plantation areas totalling 550,000 hectares that have absorbed about 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and released 26.73 tonnes of oxygen.
In the first quarter of this year, the municipality planted 187 million trees in 188,200 hectares, achieving 56.5 per cent of the target set for the whole of 2011.