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News of  May 02, 2001


Green Earth Center and Toyota Team Up Against Desertification in China

Tokyo - Green Earth Center and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced today they will initiate this month a three-year joint reforestation project aimed at hindering the expansion of deserts in China. The project will involve planting trees over 1,500 hectares of land in Fengning Man Autonomous County in China’s Hebei Province, where desertification is spreading at an alarming rate.

The project will be a closely coordinated effort, with Green Earth Center and TMC providing the funding, the China-Japan Scientific Technology & Economic Exchange Association -- an external organ of the China Science Academy -- functioning as a liaison office, Hebei Province providing the land and the forestry bureau of the Fengning Man Autonomous County local government taking charge of reforestation. At the same time, the China Science Academy and TMC will conduct joint research on anti-desertification and reforestation technologies and the evaluation of reforestation.

Green Earth Center -- a Tokyo-based non-governmental organization -- has long been involved in reforestation of arid regions in Inner Mongolia (in northeastern China) in cooperation with the Yijinhuoluoqi people’s government. Collaborative efforts over the past nine years have, among other achievements, led to the greening of some 1,400 hectares of sand dunes, improved the life-supporting functions of the local eco-system, inhibited desertification and enhanced farming village development. These accomplishments have contributed immensely to the mutual trust and friendship between Japan and China. Also, working with local residents in Jiangjin of Chongging in the upper Yangtze River region, the center helped to set up in November 1999 a 500-hectare model reforestation and soil erosion/flood prevention zone.

Meanwhile, TMC, which has responded to China’s rapid economic growth by establishing automobile industry-promoting joint production ventures -- one in Sichuan for small buses and one in Tianjin for small cars -- had also been exploring ways to contribute to China’s reforestation. Sharing a concern over increasing desertification in the country, TMC decided to support Green Earth Center’s long-standing and successful reforestation programs in China. As a result, the two organizations decided to create the new international-contribution model of an NGO linked with a private corporation and to focus on addressing the expansion of deserts in Fengning Man Autonomous County, China. TMC plans to apply, through joint studies with the China Science Academy, what it has learned from industrial afforestation and tree research it has conducted in Australia since 1999 aimed at securing pulp supplies.

Recently, desertification has disrupted the flow of China’s Yellow River, caused the Yangtze River to flood and created dust storms that swept Beijing 12 times last year. The site in Fengning Man Autonomous County of the project announced today is Xiao Ba Zi village, which is about 180 km north of Beijing. Xiao Ba Zi village is suffering accelerated desertification through overgrazing and intensified farming. A number of last year’s dust storms are believed to have spawned from the area, which is geographically close to a nationally administered three-area protective reforestation zone. Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visited Xiao Ba Zi village in May 2000 and expressed grave concern over the impact of desertification on Beijing’s ability to function as the country’s capital. The area also serves as the source of Tianjin and Beijing’s water supply. Reforestation at the beginning of this water system is drawing great expectations as part of the development of a "green dam".

Based on the results of the project, the China Science Academy, Hebei Province, Green Earth Center and TMC are considering establishing an international research and exchange center in Xiao Ba Zi village for researchers and volunteers involved in reforestation efforts around the world.

(April 24, 2001)

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