Northeast China's Liaoning Province has launched a multibillion-yuan afforestation project to make its 2,292-kilometre coastline greener in 10 years.
The 6.27 billion yuan (US$773 million) programme will benefit seven coastal cities including Dalian, Anshan, Yingkou, Panjin and Jinzhou, sources with Liaoning provincial forestry department said.
The local authority will plant 140,000 hectares of trees and restore 60,000 hectares of wetlands along its coastline in the next five years.
Coastal areas boast the most economically developed areas, but are vulnerable to typhoons, tsunami and rainstorms.
The best defence against natural disasters is nature itself, according to experts.
"Although we cannot prevent a disaster, we can build coastal shelter belts to mitigate damage along the coastline," said Wang Wenquan, head of the Liaoning provincial forestry department.
Research indicates that a network of coastal defences, especially a belt of mangroves, is capable of absorbing 30 to 40 per cent of the total force of a tsunami or typhoon and its ensuing waves before they wash over inhabited areas onshore.
The shelter project will include the establishment of primary coastal forest, mangroves, farmland and littoral wetlands.
According to Wang, the project will not only assist the coastline to withstand disasters, but will also help rehabilitate the coastal ecosystem, safeguard residents and improve their environment.
The coastal afforestation project is one of the nation's most important measures to counter natural disasters, according to Zhu Lieke, vice-administrator of the State Forestry Administration (SFA).
China's coastline stretches 18,340 kilometres from Bohai Bay in the north to Beibu Bay in the south and includes eight coastal provinces, two municipalities and one autonomous region.
Each year China loses 10 billion yuan (US$1.25 billion) as a result of seaborne calamities, according to the SFA.
Typhoons that hit China's coastal areas last summer and the aftermath of the Asian tsunami in 2004 have prompted forestry experts to consider building a national shelter belt to lessen the effects of disasters.
According to SFA statistics, China has planted 3.82 million hectares of shelter forests along its coastal waters over the past decade.
Source: China Daily