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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16. National Tree Planting Day, also known as Arbor Day. In Chinese, it’s called 植树节 (zhíshù jié).
Arbor Day occurs on March 12th, and was formally established as a national tree-planting campaign. With increasing awareness of the need to protect the environment, Arbor Day has become an important and widely observed holiday in China.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Which politician first advocated reforestation and promoted the establishment of Arbor Day in modern China?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The date on which Arbor Day is celebrated has changed over time. Originally, there was a tradition of planting willows on Tomb Sweeping Day during the early periods of the Republic of China. Arbor day was later switched to March 12 by the Nationalist Government to commemorate Sun Yat-sen, who passed away on March 12, 1925. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, March 12 was officially designated as Arbor Day by the suggestion of Deng Xiaoping.
Tree-planting activities or 植树活动 (zhíshùhuódòng) are widely organized on Arbor Day by a variety of groups and institutions. It is common for universities, middle schools, elementary schools, and state-owned enterprises to organize tree-planting excursions in the suburbs. The process of planting, fertilizing, and watering seedlings is meant to instill in participants an appreciation for reforestation and further awareness of the environment.
Since the 1980s, more than 35 billion trees have been voluntarily planted by the Chinese. China is currently conducting six strategic forestry projects. One of these projects involves windbreak construction in the so-called Three Norths or 三北 (sān běi), which is an abridged name for the north, northwest, and northeast parts China, as well as the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. This project includes the conversion of farmlands back into forests or 森林 (sēnlín), construction of wildlife reserves or 野生动物保护区 (yěshēngdòngwù bǎohùqū), and the protection of natural forests. The forest coverage rate in China rose from 8.6% in the early periods of the PRC to 16.5% at the end of 2000, which speaks to the impact that these projects and efforts have made.
In recent years, “Internet Trees Planting,” initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme, the China Population Welfare Foundation, and the China Green Foundation, has become vastly popular. People can donate a tree to be planted simply by logging onto the official website and clicking - it’s that easy to make a difference!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Which politician first advocated reforestation and promoted the establishment of Arbor Day in modern China?
Within modern Chinese history, Sun Yat-sen or 国父孙中山 (guófù Sūnzhōngshān) was the first to realize the importance of forests and the need to advocate planting trees. Because of his dedication to this cause, the Nationalist Government set the anniversary of his death as Arbor Day.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever planted a tree? Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and, I'll see you in our next lesson. Bye!