Officials from the largest city in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River have pledged to ban tree felling in a bid to reduce soil erosion and the risk of flooding. Chongqing city officials also promised to close the city's lumber industry and to forbid further exploitation of surrounding forests. The logging ban was part of a recent order issued by Mayor Pu Haiqing, Xinhua said yesterday. Mr Pu's order bans all tree felling in state-owned forests under the Sichuan city's jurisdiction. Last month, the Government banned construction on all forested land. The blanket ban applied to all building projects, including those already approved by the municipal Government to house residents displaced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. According to Xinhua, Chongqing would use a 100 million yuan (HK$93.6 million) central Government grant to retrain the estimated 12,000 lumberjacks who would lose their jobs. The lumberjacks would be retrained as tree planters. Xinhua said, however, that Chongqing would have a difficult time 'protecting the forest and preserving the soil'. Chongqing, made an administrative city last year, has along with Sichuan province shouldered much of the responsibility for resettling millions of residents affected by the Three Gorges Dam.