What it's about:
China will plant new forests across an area roughly the size of Ireland this year, as it aims to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of its total landmass by the end of the decade, China Daily reported recently.
According to an article by Reuters, Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said China would aim to grow at least 6.66 million hectares of new forest this year.
He said 33.8 million hectares of forest had been planted nationwide over the last five years, with a total investment of more than 538 billion yuan ($82.88 billion), bringing the country's forested area to 208 million hectares.
Three new state forests with a total area of 483,000 hectares would also be planted in the new Xiongan development zone in Hebei province, he said. Heavily polluted Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, has pledged to raise forest coverage to 35 percent by the end of 2020.
Why it's noteworthy:
Planting trees has become a key part of China's efforts to improve its environment and tackle climate change. The government has pledged to raise total forest coverage from 21.7 percent to 23 percent over the 2016-2020 period, said China Daily, citing the country's top forestry official.
China has long struggled to strike a balance between industrial growth, maximising food production and protecting its environment.
The government is currently promoting an "ecological red line" programme which will force provinces and regions to restrict "irrational development" and curb construction near rivers, forests and national parks.
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