NANCHANG, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A total of 15.46 million mu (about 1 million hectares) of afforestation has been completed across 11 provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River Economic Belt so far this year, a National Forestry and Grassland Administration official said on Wednesday.
Compared to 2016, areas marked by rocky desertification and soil erosion were reduced by 42.33 million mu and 70.95 million mu, respectively, said Li Chunliang, deputy director of the administration.
Ninty-one national forest cities have been built in the region as the country has beefed up its ecological protection efforts, Li told the Yangtze Forum on Conservation and Development 2022, which was held in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province.
Li said that China has devised new scientific plans to better protect the nature reserves in the Yangtze River basin. The country has also boosted its wildlife protection work along the river, including strengthening daily supervision and cracking down on poaching.
Thanks to such protection efforts, biodiversity in the Yangtze River basin has been improved, with the number of rare and endangered species such as the giant panda and crested ibis having increased significantly, Li said.