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Import and Export of Timber, Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora, Forestry Reform and its Role in Promoting the Development of a Socialist New Countryside


Sate Forestry Administration

 August 15, 2006

Forestry is an important cause for public welfare and a fundamental industry, bearing the significant tasks of improving ecological and supplying forest products. The forestry sector is a comprehensive department producing material products, intellectual products and ecological products. The ecological products include the material products necessary for production and people's living, such as timber, pulp, furniture, fruits, and flowers, such cultural products as forest tourism, forest recreation, forest literature, and forest arts, as well as such ecological products as ecology improvement, air purification, water source conserving and soil and water conservation. Material products and cultural products could be acquired through trade and exchange, while ecological products, such as clean air, clear sky, pure water, and sound environment can only be acquired in local areas rather than introducing and procuring from other countries or regions, except for timber and forest products.

Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening-up to the outside world over 20 years ago, huge amount of material products and intellectual products have been yielded. However, the shortage of ecological products has become an important factor constraining the China's sustainable economic and social development, which distinguishes remarkably the living quality of Chinese people from that of the people living in the developed countries, and is a significant issue facing us in developing the harmonious socialist society. In the era when ecological security and ecological civilization become important symbols indicating the strength and degree of development of a country, the ecological products of China have also become a hot topic drawing attentions from around the world.

The following is the general information on the supply of timber and forest products, the management of import and export of endangered species of wild fauna and flora, the reform on forest tenure system, and the roles of forestry in building the socialist new countryside.

Firstly, production and import & export of timber in China

Timber and forest products are important material goods for people's daily life. The import and export of such products are important component of international trade. The Chinese government strictly enforces China's laws and regulations and abides by international conventions in timber production and import and export trade, trying to meet the demand for timber and forest products by domestic supply, at the same time, gradually entering into economic globalization and making contributions to protection and wisely use of the forest resources and promotion of sustainable development.

The overall supply and overall consumption of timber in China are basically in balance. The total supply of wood products in 2005 was 325.9 million cubic meters, and the total consumption was 325.7 million cubic meters. During the 10th Five-Year Plan period, the annual harvest quota was 223 million cubic meters, including 116 million cubic meters of quota for harvesting commercial timber. The annual timber production plan was about 50 million cubic meters, and the actual total timber yield in 2005 was 55.6031 million cubic meters. For the total supply, the log equivalent of imported wood based forest products was 126 million cubic meters. For the total consumption, the log equivalent of exported wood based forest product, except furniture was 26.606 million cubic meters. In 2005, the forest products for the first time in history achieved a trade surplus of US$3.064 billion. This shows that the relative parts of imported timber end-consumers are in China and the export of China's forest products is the outcome of the development of international market and the optimization of global resources.

In the import and export of timber and forest products, the biggest share of imported products is paper and pulp, accounting for 61.43 percent of imported wood based forest products, of which log and sawn wood account for 31.8 percent. The biggest share of exported products is furniture. In the trade value, the furniture accounts for 46.68 percent of wood based forest products, of which log, wood-based panel and sawn timber account for 21.41 percent. This also indicates that the end consumer of imported timber is not in China.

With regard to the regional structure, 60 percent of the export volume of wood forest products in China goes to USA, Japan and Hong Kong and the first five export trading partners take turns as follows: USA for 37.67 percent, Japan 13.11 percent, Hong Kong 10.17 percent, UK 5.17 percent and Canada 3.17 percent. China mainly imports timber forest products from Russian, USA and Indonesian markets and the import source shifts from such Asian markets as Indonesia etc. to Russia and USA. The first five import trading partners in turn are: Russia for 15.58 percent, USA 14.85 percent, Indonesia 8.49 percent, Canada 7.63 percent and Japan 6.51 percent.

With the rapid development of China's plantation, especially industrial timber plantation, the total volume of usable timber in China has increased to a large extent. Approved by the State Council of China, in the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the annual average commercial harvest quota will increase to 157.69 million cubic meters and the timber output volume will reach 99.827 million cubic meters. With the advancement of Key National Forestry Programs, the timber output volume of China will also gradually increase. China's implementation of the Natural Forest Protection Program is responsible for the eco-safety of country's land and sustainable development of forest resources in the world and makes great contributions to ecological development in the world.

Secondly, regarding the management of the import and export of wild fauna and flora in China and execution of CITES.

China boasts mega-diversity and abundant wildlife resources and has stepped into the orbit of managing wildlife resources according to law. China formally applied to join CITES in 1981. Since joining CITES 26 years ago, the Chinese government has earnestly implemented the stipulations of the Convention, strictly controlled the international trade of wild fauna and flora, practically enhanced the management of domestic wildlife conservation and the management of import and export of wildlife and convention execution have developed in a comprehensive and sound way.

Firstly, the management mechanism of convention execution has been established and perfected. Centralized and unified management mechanism of convention execution has been carried out. The Management Office for Import and Export of Endangered Species, P. R. China has been established in the State Forestry Administration (the former Ministry of Forestry) and the Endangered Species Scientific Commission, P. R. China has been established in the ChineseAcademy of Social Sciences. Branch offices have been established in 22 cities, with a central manning quota of 130 staff.

Secondly, the legislation and enforcement system suitable to convention execution has basically formulated. The legislation system on wildlife conservation with Wild Fauna Conservation Law, Wild Flora Conservation Law, Ordinance on the Import and Export of Endangered Species as core has formulated. The enforcement strength has been enhanced; the joint enforcement network has been established among such sectors as public security, customs, forestry and agriculture and with the International Criminal Police Organization (TERPOL) and World Customs Organization (WCO). A great deal of cases of smuggling wildlife have been seriously investigated and prosecuted and smuggling of wildlife has been cracked down. Especially since the implementation of Ordinance on the Import and Export of Endangered Species on September 1 this year issued by the State Council, essential legal bases have been provided for managing the import and export of wild species according to law.

Thirdly, the management of import and export of wild species has been enhanced and the convention execution has been standardized. A set of management systems on the import and export of wild species based on Import and Export Certificates and with counterpart management measures have been established, the Commodity Directory of Import and Export Wild Fauna and Flora has been carried out, which has helped to include all the import and export activities of wildlife into the supervision scope of customs sector. The conservation of endangered wildlife species has been strengthened, trade on artificial breeding species has been encouraged and supported in order to reduce and relieve the pressure on the wild populations.

Fourthly, international cooperation and exchange has been actively conducted in order to improve China's influencing power on CITES-related affairs. Contacts with CITES Secretariat, other party countries and international organizations have been expanded. Cooperation on trade survey, enforcement training, publicity and education with such international organizations as CITES Secretariat has been conducted, which has helped to enlarge China's influencing power in CITES-related affairs. At the COPs in 2000 and 2004, China was successively elected as the vice-chair country and Asian Regional Representative of the Standing Committee of CITES.

Fifthly, publicity and education has been extensively conducted in order to enhance the pubic awareness of conservation. Variously approaches have been taken to extensively publicize the great significance of wildlife conservation and strengthen the conservation awareness of the whole society. In recent years, publicity boards and electronic screens have been set up in large airports and ports, and about hundreds of thousand of hand foldouts have been handed out. Training will be provided to personnel working with customs, public security, and wildlife conservation sectors and import and export enterprises.

Thirdly, reform of forest tenure system

The reform of forest tenure system is the core of all the forestry policies and the important source to unleash the forestry productivity. The reform of forest tenure system includes the reform of the forest tenure of the state-owned forest regions, the state-owned forest farms and the collective-owned forests.

On June 16 the State Forestry Administration official endorsed the reform scheme of the state-owned forest regions in Yichun, Heilongjiang Province, which I told you in details on July 20 at press conference.

There are 4466 state-owned forest farms across the whole country and such reform is in full preparation. The core is to carry out the classified management of the state-owned forest farms by ecological welfare and commodity types. The state will promulgate the contents and system of such reform in the form of government decree.

The reform of the collective-owned forest tenure system is another major land use reform after the household contracted arable land reform in China. There are 2.549 billion mu (0.17 billion hectares) of collective forest land across rural China, accounting for almost half of forest area of the whole country, which are important production and livelihood material of farmers, and play very important role in sustaining their livelihood, increasing their income and protecting the ecology. At present there are some salient problems in the collective forest tenure system such as unclear rights to use of forestland and tenure of forests, that the management entities are not finalized, the management system not flexible and the distribution of benefits not reasonable. Through reform activities to clarify tenure, enliven the management, alleviate taxes and fees and regulate exchange and transfer, such collective forest management system with clear tenure, finalized management entities, specified responsibilities, strict safeguard of benefits, regulated and smooth exchange and transfer and supervision service will be established to safeguard the management of collective forests by farmers with clear tenure, management and disposal right and ensured benefit right. The reform of the collective forest ownership system will ensure the farmers to own mountains, rights, benefits and responsibilities. At the end of August the State Forestry Administration will hold a field meeting on reform of collective forest ownership system in Jiangxi to disseminate further the experiences of Fujian, Jiangxi and Liaoning and other provinces.

Fourthly, forestry's roles in promoting the development of socialist new countryside

The mountainous land area, sandy land area and wetland area take up 69 percent, 18.1 percent and 4 percent respectively of the total country’s land area. 59.5 percent of rural population and over 80 percent of poverty-stricken people are living in mountainous and sandy land areas. To let these people to be better off is a fundamental objective of building socialist new countryside. The mountainous area, sandy land area and wetland area are the main battlefield of forestry and also important resources for farmers' getting rich in these areas. In China, 4.3 billion mu (0.29 billion hectares) are the land for forestry use with use rate only being 59.77 percent. The land resource is very rich, including 800 million mu (53.36 million hectares) of sandy land suitable for management and 600 million mu (40 million hectares) of natural wetland. There are more than 8,000 woody plants and 2,400 wildlife species. Among which, many species can be explored and become giant green industries. The potential of market demand for forest products is very large. In China, at present, the annual timber consumption per capita is only 0.12 cubic meters, which has a big gap compared with 0.68 cubic meters of timber consumption per capita in the world. Forestry is a labor-intensive industry that is easy for farmers to be employed. The employment issue on 120 million of rural surplus labor force and 1/2 surplus labor time can be solved by forestry. With development of forestry in rural area, the quantity and quality of ecological products can be raised and improved, at the same time, farmers' income be directly increased, the screens for increasing grain yield be provide and greening and beautified rural areas be realized. With the reform of forest tenure system, the rural civilization will be promoted and rural democracy at grass-roots be enhanced. Therefore, forestry is an important part and also power of building socialist new countryside.

(China Development Gateway August 15, 2006)

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