LHASA, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has seen its afforestation area increase by 372,413 hectares since November 2012 amid efforts to strengthen ecological protection, local authorities said Tuesday.
The region's forest coverage rose from less than 1 percent in 1951 to 12.14 percent last year, thanks to a spate of ecological projects including returning farmland to forest and curbing desertification, said officials with the regional forestry and grassland bureau on March 12, China's Arbor Day.
The ecological protection campaign has contributed to Tibet's poverty alleviation efforts. The region hired 309,000 farmers and herders as forest rangers last year, which increased their income by a total of about 1.5 billion yuan (223.4 million U.S. dollars).
The improving environment in Tibet has also boosted the development of local tourism. "Tourists come to Tibet to see its beautiful environment. The better the environment is, the brighter the future will be for the tourism industry," said Drolma, a villager in Tsona County, the city of Shannan.