Poplar trees get new status under BRI

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) – China holds 61 per cent of the world’s total poplar tree forests, which provide important economic value to people.

China has launched cross-border partnerships with several international nongovernmental and civic organisations to create three “green economic belts” in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Three belts will be created using poplar trees, under a plan released by the China Green Foundation at the Belt and Road International Forum on Public Co-operation for Ecological Remediation, which was held in Wuwei, Gansu province, on Thursday.

The belts are expected to start in Northwest China and connect countries in Central and West Asia, such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkey.

“Under the plan, a co-operative partnership will be established to encourage more exchanges of experience in developing a green economy in different countries,” said Chen Shuxian, chairman of the foundation.

Poplar trees now cover about 648,000 hectares worldwide, according to the foundation. Most of them are located in 17 countries involved in the BRI.

China holds 61 per cent of the world’s total poplar tree forests, which provide important economic value to people. For example, the poplar forest covering an area of 31,840 hectares in Hotan, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, generates annual income of 672 million yuan ($98 million), according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

In Inner Mongolia’s Ejin Banner, residents developed a tourism industry themed on poplar tree forests, which attracted more than 1.1 million tourists from home and abroad in 2015 and which has generated 1.4 billion yuan annually.

“We want to encourage more countries to improve their ecosystems through planting poplar trees. And we welcome international enterprises, both in the private and public sectors, to support the partnership through donations,” said Chen Lian, vice-chairwoman of the foundation. “In return, this cross-border co-operative will bring them more business opportunities.”

During the forum, the foundation also announced the launch of an international ecological restoration fund, drawn from donations worldwide to promote a green economy in countries involved in the BRI.

“Like many countries, China has been confronted with the negative impact of a deteriorating environment. It has made remarkable achievements in ecological remediation, including combating desertification and working to restore and expand forests,” said Liu Zhenmin, undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs of the United Nations.

He said the BRI focuses on a common development, with its goal of achieving win-win co-operation in line with the 2030 Agenda.

Through the forum and the co-operative mechanism, he said, China can better share its experience with civic organisations and collaborate to advance ecological remediation in other countries.

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