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Posted Wed Mar 2 2011: from Guardian, from DesdemonaDespair:
Scientists flee blaze in Chinese rainforest restoration project
One of the world's most advanced rainforest restoration projects may be going up in smoke in southern China. A short while ago, I received a frantic phone call from Bulang Mountain in Xishuangbanna, where scientists and conservationists are fleeing 30m-high flames that, they said, were consuming trees in seconds. Witnesses said the blaze had reached the edge of the Seeds of Heaven biodiversity development centre, where an ecologically healthy forest had been painstakingly rebuilt over the past four years on the site of a former rubber plantation.... "It's horrific. This model, which is recognised internationally as one of the most advanced of its type in the world, is now going up in flames." The project - which was launched about five years ago by the German biologist Josef Margraf, now deceased, and his wife Minguo - pioneers a "rainforest farming" technique that creates a rich habitat for multiple species, from which a modest income for people can be cultivated from orchids, tea, honey and other products.... The flames appear to have spread from the direction of a neighbouring cow farm. Local officials say the spark was deliberately lit to create a controlled firebreak. Others told the visiting group that the fire may have been part of an effort to clear land for the expansion of a cattle farm. "This is no accident. You just don't do a controlled fire on a windy day like today," said Pavlos Georgiadis, a former student of Margraf, who died of a heart attack last year. "This is the peak of the dry season. We haven't had rain for two months."
[Read more stories about: rain forest depletion, species restoration, stupid humans]

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