Speech at Opening Ceremony of '99 IWS
Mrs. Lena Lindberg, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in China,
Mr. Qureshi, FAO Representative in China,
Dr. Tej Partap, Representative of ICIMOD,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The beautiful flowers and charming landscape signifies beginning autumn in Beijing. In this pleasant weather and with great pleasure, we welcome experts, scholars, and representatives of international organizations and diplomatic envoys in Beijing.
As we approach the 21st century, we come to Beijing to exchange and share our experiences and achievements on seabuckthorn. We will also explore the possibility of international cooperation on seabuckthorn development. On behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources, China, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to IWS-99, and welcome all of you to Beijing.
The environment is a common concern all over the world, as it is the basis for the existence of human beings. All economic and social development relies on the quality of environment.
Improvement of soil and water conservation, protection of the environment and realizing sustainable development is a long-term strategy for Chinese government.
China has emphasized the construction of environment and comprehensive controlling soil and water erosion. In 1991, China introduced "The Law of Soil and Water Conservation, the Peoples Republic of China." Soil and water conservation has been a basic policy. Through legal measures to control soil and water conservation, China's ecological environment improvement has been achieved. Now China is implementing a national project on soil and water conservation that involves the seven largest rivers in China including the Yangze River and the Yellow River. This project covers 700,000 square kilometers of land area.
In order to implement the project properly, some scientific principals have been used. First, the project is demonstrated on small watershed, conducted by the county taking into account on mountains, water, fields, forests, and roads. Third, engineering biological and agricultural measures will be properly used for soil and water conservation. Fourth, the land affected by erosion should be controlled on large scale and the degraded lands should be reclaimed continually year by year. Finally, ecological, economic and social benefits will be taken into consideration. As of 1999 approximately 780,000 square kilometers of land affected by soil erosion has been controlled. In many of these areas environment has been greatly improved. In many of these areas environment has been greatly improved. The capacity of soil and water conservation practice has been increased. This practice can increase capacity of water storage by 25 billion cubic meters; reducing soil erosion by 1.5 billion tons, and enhancing crop yield 20 billion kilograms. In these areas environmental and agricultural conditions have been greatly improved, which in turn has aided local economic development.
China still has about 20 million square kilometers of degraded land that needs to be improved, and there is newly degraded land that should be controlled, so soil and water conservation and environment improvement is a long-term task for China. In order to speed up soil and water conservation and reclamation at the degraded land with vegetation, the Chinese government has paid more attention to seabuckthorn development. With excellent characteristics including drought tolerance, adaptation to poor soils and fast growth, seabuckthorn has been considered as a pioneer tree species in the arid and semi-arid areas, especially in the sand stone area of the Loess Plateau. In these area seabuckthorn has been planted on a large scale. As of 1999 approximately 900,000 hectares of seabuckthorn plantations have been establishes.Combined with the natural forests of seabuckthorn, the total area of seabuckthorn has reached 1.5 million hectares. These seabuckthorn plantations have effectively controlled soil and water erosion and have improved the local environment and social-economic development.
Research has shown that all parts of seabuckthorn can be used: The plant not only protects the soil and improves the environment, but also provides value-added products from seabuckthorn berries. Seabuckthorn has been proven to be a multi-purpose plant in terms of soil and water conservation and economic development. Recently, the Chinese government has announced "National Master Plan on Ecological Environment Improvement" which includes the statement that: "To establish seabuckthorn plantations in the sandstone areas for soil and water conservation and to reduce the damage caused by coarse sand sedimentation to the Yellow River" In 1998, the Chinese government invested 30 million RMB on a demonstration project for seabuckthorn plantation establishment in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River. I believe that seabuckthorn, as a pioneer plant for soil and water conservation and a magical plant for multi-purpose uses, will play an even more important role in protecting the environment and economic development.
Distinguished guests, as you may known, in 1995, at the International Symposium on Seabuckthorn, 11 countries made an agreement that the International Center for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn (ICRTS) be established in Beijing with it's secretariat, the China Seabuckthorn Administration Center. During the past 4 years, UNDP and other international organizations, MOFTEC and the Ministry of Water Resources, China provided support to ICRTS. The secretariat of ICRTS has carried out many activities such as organizing workshops, information exchange, training and consultation. As a host agency, the Ministry of Water Resources has been providing considerable support including funding of personnel and facilities at the center. However, since ICRTS is very young, it has some deficiencies, and needs continued support from the international community. From September 1-2, the International Coordinating Committee of ICRTS will have a special meeting focusing on the future development of ICRTS. I wish the meeting of ICC/ICRTS success and realization of substantial results. As the host country, China, just as in the past, will support the development of ICRTS and make an efforts to aid in seabuckthorn development all over the world.
Distinguished guests, I believe the International Workshop on Seabuckthorn-99 will greatly promote the development of seabuckthorn in the world and enhance the cooperation and exchange of seabuckthorn information and technology between member countries. I believe that seabuckthorn will not only contribute to China's soil and water conservation efforts and environment improvement, but also help all countries to achieve sustainable development.
I sincerely wish the workshop success and hope you have a pleasant stay in Beijing.