YINCHUAN, January16, Xinhua -- A forest area of over 488,000 hectares was added in northern China under the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program (TSFP) last year, official statistics showed on Thursday.

Degraded forest of up to nearly 100,000 hectares was repaired over the same period, according to China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Key program 1.17 North China adds 488000 hectares of forest area in 2019

Photo taken on July 28, 2018 shows the scenery of the Saihanba State Forest Park in Chengde, north China's Hebei Province. Saihanba is a vast forest covering nearly 75,000 hectares. It was a piece of barren land 55 years ago. (Xinhua/Chen Xiaodong)

To hold back sandstorms and soil erosion, China launched the TSFP in 1978. Consisting of forestation in northwest, north and northeast China, the eight-phase project, covering 13 provincial regions which are about 42.4 percent of the country's total land area, is expected to be completed by 2050.

Modernization of the project's governance system and capacity will be prioritized in 2020, in a bid to increase the amount and quality of forest and grass, said Zhang Wei, director of the Three-North Shelterbelt Program construction bureau under the administration.

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