Good news — China is about to get a whole lot greener. According to a source in the Central Military Commission, a large regiment of the People’s liberation Army, in addition to the nation’s armed police force, have been withdrawn from protecting the northern border. Their new task? To plant trees.
The new forests will cover an area approximately 84,000 square kilometers in size — roughly the size of Ireland — in 2018. The goal is to increase forest coverage to 23 percent of total landmass by 2020. The current forested area stands at 21 percent, according to China Daily.
Asia Times reports:
“The armed police force has a specially designated forestry branch to patrol and exercise jurisdiction in forested areas such as the northeastern Greater Khingan mountain range – dubbed ‘China’s green lungs’ – in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia provinces.”
In a meeting last week, Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, said that China aims to grow at least 6.66 million hectares of new forest this year alone. Around 208 million hectares are now forested in China; 33.8 million hectares have been added in the past five years.
To benefit citizens who are plagued by air pollution in Beijing, the Hebei province will increase its total forest coverage to 35 percent by the end of 2020. The bulk of the province’s troops will also be pulled back from the frontlines to assist in reforestation efforts.
Much of the smog that blankets northern China in cold seasons is sourced from Beijing. Three years ago, the Chinese city announced a plan to lay off 300,000 soldiers and PLA personnel. They have since been re-assigned to non-military positions, which include planting trees and “revving up key state-level infrastructure projects,” reports the Asia Times.
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Source: Asia Times
Image Credit: China Daily