Hebei to plant 100 million trees to block sand storms

About 100 million trees will be planted by volunteers this year in Hebei Province to increase forest coverage and block sand storms from reaching Beijing and Tianjin, Hebei provincial forestry authorities told the Global Times on Monday, the day before China’s 35th Tree Planting Day.

Over the past five years, about 30 million local volunteers including government employees, soldiers and students have planted 100 million trees each year, said an employee surnamed Ren from the office of the Hebei Provincial Afforestation and Greening Committee.

Planting trees in Hebei Province is very significant to Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, which suffer from frequent sand storms, according to Tang Xiaoping, a vice dean of the Academy of Forest Inventory and Planning under the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

Beijing and Tianjin are surrounded by Hebei Province, which is a major source of sand storms, Tang said.

Before 2006, deserts accounted for 12.81 percent of the total area of the province, according to the Hebei Provincial Forestry Department, China News Service (CNS) reported Monday. Deserts now cover 11.34 percent of the province.

A series of projects has reduced deserts by 278,000 hectares, a Hebei forestry official was quoted as saying in the CNS report.

In 2012 alone, 648 tree planting bases totaling 13,133  hectares had been established in Hebei, CNS reported.

Across the country, 600 million volunteers planted 2,600 million trees in 2012, SFA announced on Monday.

Heavy sand storms hit Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and Qinghai and Hebei provinces on Saturday.

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