With coming of Tree-planting Day tomorrow, March 12, the State Forestry Authority revealed in its 2007 Green Coverage Report published Tuesday that a total of 51.54 billion trees have been planted by ordinary Chinese people till the end of last year.
China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress (NPC), passed a resolution in December 1981 calling for voluntary tree planting to tackle worsening environmental conditions.
Excessive felling and growing industrialization has eroded many of China's green areas, making reforestation more important.
2.27 billion trees were planted last year by 58 percent of the population, lifting the urban forestry coverage to 35.11 percent, up 2.57 percentage points, figures with the State Forestry Administration (SFA) showed.
Administration director Jia Zhibang said people's awareness of preserving ecological balances has been enhanced greatly as the campaign is moving forward.
The nationwide restoration effort helped fuel the fastest expansion of man-made forest area in China, taking up 53.2 percent of the global annual increase, or one third of the world's total, said the SFA.
The man-made forest area now totals more than 53.33 million hectares, the largest on the planet, Jia Zhibang said.
He said snow-ravaged south China has moved to restore forests. This year's severe winter has cost China's forestry sector 57.3 billion yuan (about US$8 billion) in losses and has damaged 20.86 million hectares of forests, or 10 percent of the total.
Heavy losses would set back efforts to meet a national 20-percent forest-cover target by 2020, the administration said.
China's forest acreage reached 175 million hectares last year, raising the country's forest coverage to 18.21 percent, compared with 12 percent in 1981.
The per capital public green areas edged up 0.41 to 8.3 square meters last year, which is still much lower than the international average.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2008)