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Scope and tasks of the program

The sandstorm source control program in Beijing-Tianjin region was approved by the State Council in June 2000 considering the worsening desertification severe damages by sandstorms and fragile ecological conditions in the capital city and its surrounding areas, the objective of the program was to improve the ecological environment in the capital city and upgrade the international status of Beijing for a green Olympics and secured harmonious economic and social development in the region, through measures of vegetation protection, tree and grass planting, land conversion from farmland back to forestland, integrated catchment and grassland management and ecological resettlements.

Since the approval of the sandstorm source control program in Beijing-Tianjin region by the State Council in June 2006, pilot trials were carried out in 65 counties or flags of 5 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government) of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. In 2001, the pilot trials were extended from 65 to 75 counties or flags, indicating a full coverage of the program regions. In March 2003, the State Council formally approved the program plan and the program was incepted in full.  

The scope of the program covers an area west from Damao Flag in Inner Mongolia east to Pingquan County in Hebei, and south from Dai County in Shanxi north to Dongwuzhumuqin Flag in Inner Mongolia, involving 75 counties (flags, municipalities, districts) of 5 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government) of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.

Program duration: 10 years from 2001 to 2010, divided into two phases, with phase I from 2001 to 2005 and phase II from 2006 to 2010.   Program tasks: Up to 2010, a total of 2.629 million ha of land conversion will be completed, of which 1.342 million ha were converted farmland and 1.287 million ha were afforestation in barren mountains and wastelands; 4.944 million ha of afforestation; 10.957 million ha of grassland management of which 5.685 million ha of grazing ban and 2.86 million m2 of shelters for captive livestock, purchase of 23,100 sets of fodder machines; Construction of 66,059 locations of water resource facilities, 47,830 sites of water saving irrigation, 23,445 km2 of catchment management; ecological resettlement of 0.18 million people.

During the 10th 5-year period, 2.113 million ha of land conversion were completed, of which 1.067 million ha were conversion of sloping farmland and 1.04 million ha were afforestation in barren mountains, wastelands and sandy lands, and 3.233 million ha of afforestation, 6.008 million ha of grassland management including 3.541 million ha of grazing ban, construction of 30,548 locations of water resource facilities, 19,912 sets of water saving irrigation and 10,485 km2 of integrated catchment management, and ecological resettlement of 80,000 people.  

Related policies

1) Land conversion from farmland back to forestland. The duration of subsidies of food and cash was 8 years for ecological forest and 5 years for economic forest. The criteria for food subsidy: 1,500 kg food (unprocessed) per year for each ha of converted farmland, calculated as 1.40 RMB for each kg of food. The criteria for cash subsidy: 300 RMB cash per year per ha for converted farmland, 750 RMB cash per ha for afforestation in converted farmland, and barren mountains and wastelands and sandy lands suitable for growing trees.  

2) Afforestation and silviculture. A subsidy of 4,500 RMB/ha was provided for artificial plantings, of which 1,500 RMB/ha was provided by the central government. The subsidy for aero seeding of trees was 1,800 RMB/ha (including tending after seeding), and 1,050 RMB/ha for mountain closure for forest restoration, both were fully covered by the central government.  

3) Grassland management. Artificial grass planting was invested with 1,800 RMB/ha, and 900 RMB of which were provided by the central government. Aero seeding of pasture grasses was 1,500 RMB/ha of which 750 RM/ha was provided by the central government. Fencing for closed restoration was invested with 1,050 RMB/ha including 600 RMB/ha invested by the central government. Pastureland infrastructure construction was invested with 7,500 RMB/ha including 1,200 RMB/ha from the central government. Seed production bases were invested with 18,000 RMB/ha with 7,500 RMB/ha from the central government.  

The criteria of subsidy for livestock fodder after grazing ban was 0.225 kg/day/ha. In the desertification combating area of northern arid grassland and the sand land management area of Hunshandake, the period of grazing ban was 365 days, in the desertification combating area of mixture of agriculture and pasture lands and the water conservation area in Yanshan hilly mountains, the duration of grazing ban was 180 days. The duration of subsidy for livestock fodder was 5 years. According to national financial status, the subsidy for livestock fodder was temporarily provided through the food subsidy of the land conversion program by provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) in the program region according to actual situation.  

4) Water resource measures. Supporting facilities for water sources and water saving irrigation was subsidized with 10,000 RMB per location by the central government. Small catchment management was subsidized by the central government with 200,000 RMB/km2.  

5) Ecological resettlement. 500 RMB/person was fully covered by the infrastructure fund of the central government.   

6) The task of afforestation in barren mountains and wastelands matching the land conversion task was allowed to be contracted to various social organizations and individuals such as large tree planting households, enterprises, social groups, military units in separate blocks, and a subsidy 750 RMB/ha for seeds, plant stocks and tree planting were provided by the government. Ownerships were confirmed by issuing forest ownership certificate and registered according to relevant laws and regulations.   

7) Farmland of state owned farms of agriculture, forestry and pasture in the program region that were already contracted to households and consistent with policy requirements, the contractors could take tasks of land conversion on their own willingness, and governed by the national land conversion policies.   

8) The task of afforestation in barren mountains and wastelands in the program region matching the land conversion task, models of vegetation restoration were determined on scientific basis and local conditions. In locations with no facilities for artificial plantings, mountain (Sand land) closure for forest restoration, aero seeding and other models with enrichment planting were adopted according to local conditions.  

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