Photo credit: zamario
Does China have a softer, greener side, after all? The nation, straining under accusations of rampant industrial pollution and unchecked carbon emissions, last month unveiled a new conservation strategy for safeguarding its plant biodiversity. The plan: To allow 37 million acres (15 million hectares) of farmland to revert to forest over the next three years, in addition to extending nature reserves, protecting biodiversity hotspots, and creating a plant-monitoring system.
China is home to 10 percent of all known plant species, with half of those unique to the country. Around 5,000 species are under threat. To complicate matters, the Ministry of Land and Resources in April reported that more than 10 percent of China's farmland is polluted, posting a "severe threat" to the nation's food production.Arable land shrank by almost 760,000 acres (308,000 hectares) in the first 10 months of 2006, according to government officials. Reports blamed excessive fertilizer use, polluted water, heavy metals, and solid wastes—the results of the nation's rapid economic growth.
Still, China's government has pledged to spend heavily to clean up the country's heavily polluted environment. "The Chinese government is working hard to develop the economy and improve our sustainable environmental practices," says Jia Jiansheng of the department of wildlife conservation in the State Forestry Administration, Beijing. :: New Scientist and :: BBC News