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SHIJIAZHUANG, AUGUST 28 – In the national plan for integrated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, the province of Hebei, taking advantage of its geographical location, is planning and constructing economic forest bases surrounding the two municipalities to provide shelter against winds and to bring wealth to local residents in the province.

Hebei has rich resources of non-timber forests. The province has made non-timber trees as the top choice for the construction of protective forest belts around the two metropolises. At present, the planting acreage of economic forests has amounted to 2 million hectares, ranking the first among all provinces in the country. These economic forest bases include the chestnut base in the Yanshan Mountains, the walnut and apple bases in the Taihang Mountains, the almond bases in the northern part, the pear and peach bases in the plain areas, and the jujube bases in the eastern regions.

In the province, the area of economic forests accounts for 41 percent of total forest areas. In the hilly regions, the proportion is 38.9 percent while in the plain regions, it reaches as high as 46.1 percent. Non-timber forests have become an important part in the province’s forest resources, and are playing an important role in preventing soil desertification, conserving water, sheltering against winds and sands, absorbing carbon emissions and protecting the environment of Beijing and Tianjin.

The economic forests also produce abundant vegetable, oil and food for local residents, which are welcome in the market. By relying on the markets in Beijing and Tianjin, fruits as pear and apple and forest-related foods as walnut, chestnut and jujube generate big wealth for local residents. Farmers in the province are standardizing their planting and applying organ techniques to produce green fruits and food for the market.

At present, more than 45 percent of fruits and forest-generated foods from the province is supplied to the market in Beijing and Tianjin. These help stabilize the market and improve the living standards of the urban resident.

Due to the proximity of these economic forest bases to Beijing and Tianjin and cities in the province and convenient transport, leisure activities and forest tourism are also developing fast.

At present, the province has constructed more than 800 fruit-picking farms and more than 100 pilot tourism-oriented villages. The peach blossom festival in Shunping, the pear blossom festival in Zhaoxian County, the walnut festival in Qianxi, the winter jujube festival in Huanghua, the grapes festival in Huailai and the persimmon festival in the Langyashan attract big numbers of visitors each year.

Economic forests are known for high yields, and can lead the local residents to prosperity. At the same time, such trees could be planted in differed types of land and could save as much as more than 30 percent of water compared to grain and vegetables.

At present, more than four-fifths of cities and counties, one-third of the rural areas and one-fourth of farmers are planting economic forests, and the annual output value has exceeded 60 billion yuan. Non-timber forests now help increase farmers’ incomes, particularly poverty-stricken farmers in the mountains.

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