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. China's desert is shrinking: government

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 4, 2007
China's desert area is shrinking as a result of years of forest restoration efforts, but it still accounts for more than a quarter of the country's territory, the government said Tuesday.

Desertified area decreases by 1,283 square kilometres (510 square miles) a year now, compared with an annual expansion of 3,436 square kilometres in the late 1990s, said Zhu Lieke, vice minister of the State Forestry Administration.

The government is investing two billion dollars a year in key projects to build a green belt in the north and convert some farmland to forests as part of efforts to stem the growth of the desert, Zhu told a briefing here.

However, desert still makes up 28.8 percent of China's land, he said.

Zhu said the government was taking various measures to address the problem, aiming to raise forestry coverage to 20 percent by 2010 and 23 percent by 2020.

The official Xinhua news agency said that currently China's forestry coverage was 18.2 percent, while the global level was 30 percent, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in March.

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Australian PM ratifies Kyoto Protocol
Sydney (AFP) Dec 3, 2007
Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd became Australia's 26th prime minister Monday and immediately began dismantling the former government's policies by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

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