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Forestry Development in China

State Forestry Administration

December 4, 2007

Forest issue and ecological issue are closely linked with the survival and development of human beings. The Chinese government has long attached great importance to forestry development with significant achievements made, which not only improved China's ecological situation, but also made great contribution in dealing with global ecological crisis and maintaining global ecological safety.

The increment rate of forest resource ranks the first in the world

Over the past decades, The Chinese government has been giving first priority to maintaining and developing forest resources in the process of ecological development, and China's forest resource kept continuous and rapid increase. Currently, China's forest area has reached 175 million ha, with 12.456 billion m3 of stock volume and 13.618 billion m3 of standing stock volume. The forest cover has increased from 8.6 percent before the founding of new China in 1949 to 18.21 percent. Under the global trend of reduction of forest resources, China's forest resources continuously increased with the highest increment rate in the world. From 2000 to 2005, the global forest area reduced by 7.3 million ha annually, while China's forest area increased by 4.058 million ha annually.

The area of plantations ranks the first in the world

For many years, China adopted various measures to enhance the development of plantations and increase forest resource. Especially over the last 20 years, nationwide compulsory tree-planting campaign was continuously conducted.10.4 billion person-times have participated in the campaign with 49.2 billion trees planted. The Chinese government made enormous investment to implement a series of key forestry programs in succession which accelerated the development of plantations. At present, the area of plantations amounts to 53.6499 million ha, ranking the first in the world, and China has achieved the increment of both the forest area and the stock volume for 20 years running. This significant achievement has been well acknowledged by the international community.

Protection forest is developing in great scale. The area of plantations established by the "Three North" Shelterbelt Development Program launched in 1978 has amounted to 23.74 million ha in accumulation. Some 8.32 million ha of plantations has been established by the Yangtze River Basin Shelterbelt Development Program launched in 1988, 7.1 million ha of plantations in accumulation has been established by the National Plain Greening Program launched in 1988 and 3.864 million ha of plantations in accumulation has been established by the Coastal Shelterbelt Development Program launched in 1991.

Afforestation for sandification control has yielded remarkable results. The Sandification Control Program for Areas in the Vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin launched in 2000 has fulfilled the objective of controlling 6.12 million ha of desertified land accumulation, and conducted ecological migration of 101,200 persons. Through the long-term control efforts, the sandification expansion trend was held back primarily, the desertification situation was shifted from an annual expansion of 3436 km2 in late 1990's to an annual drop of 1283 km2 in the early 2000's, creating a miracle in the desertification combating history of human beings.

Land Conversion Program is making unprecedented progress. The Land Conversion Program launched in 1999 has added 24.27 million ha of forest for China through converting cropland to forest, afforestation in barren mountains and lands and mountain closure, increasing the forest cover by more than two percentage points in the program area which accounts for 82 percent of China's total land area, effectively reducing soil erosion and improving ecological environment. In order to ensure the effective solution of the long-term livelihood of the farmers in the program area and the consolidation of the program achievements, the Chinese government made an important decision in August 2007 to extend the implementation period of land conversion policy for one more cycle, and increase the investment of the program to a total of 430 billion RMB, equivalent to 2.4 times of the investment of Three Gorges Program or 13 times of the investment of Qinghai Tibet Railways, the program was reputed by farmers as enrich-the-people program and benevolent rule program.

Fast-growing and High-yield Timber Plantations Base Development Program is proceeding rapidly. The development of fast-growing and high-yield timber plantations bases has been strongly promoted since the 1990's. With the launching of the Forest Industrial Base Development Program in Key Regions with a Focus on Fast-growing and High-yielding Timber Plantations in 2002, 4.9 million ha of fast-growing and high-yielding timber plantations was established in China by now.

The scale of natural forest protection ranks the first in the world

While vigorously developing plantations, China also attaches great importance to the protection of natural forest. The area of China's natural forest is 117 million ha, accounting for 60 percent of the total forest area. Since 1998, China launched the Natural Forest Protection Program, totally stopped the commercial logging of natural forest in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River, and reduced the commercial logging of natural forest in the northeast area and Inner Mongolia to a great extent. With nine years' efforts, the program has gained remarkable result, 98.3772 million ha of natural forest has been effectively protected, and consumption of natural forest resource has been reduced by 426 million m3 in accumulation.

Wildlife conservation and the capacity of wetland and nature reserve development had been improved

In 2001, China launched the Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Development Program, strengthening the conservation and rescue of wild fauna and flora and the development of nature reserves. Currently, there are 2,395 nature reserves of different types in China with a total area of 152 million ha, accounting for 15 percent of the total land area, which is above the average level in the world. Meanwhile, species conservation has been improved steadily. Some 42 wildlife conservation development projects had been approved, which greatly promoted the conservation of endangered wildlife and formed stable populations bred in captivity. The number of wild giant pandas has increased from about 1000 in the 1980's to 1596 by now, and the number of giant pandas lived in captivity in China amounts to 239, more than 70 percent of which were bred artificially, basically concluding the situation of maintaining captive population by wild individuals. Such species as Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis), Tarpan (Equus przewalskii), David's deer (Elaphurus davidiauns) and cycas (Cycas revolute) start to return to the nature. Over 400 wild plant germplasm banks and gene conservation centers and over 160 botanic gardens and arboretums have been established.

China has formulated a series of policies on salvaging and conservation of natural wetlands, stopping free encroachment and destruction of wetlands, and initiating demonstration projects, compiled and implemented the Operation Plan of National Wetland Conservation Program (2002-2030) and the Operation Plan of National Wetland Conservation Program (2005-2010),which initiate projects of wetland conservation, rehabilitation, sustainable utilization, capacity building, putting about 45 percent of natural wetland under effective protection.

China will become a country with sound ecology and environment in 2020

Ecological development is a long-term and arduous task. The Chinese government has clearly put forward the strategy of fully carrying out the scientific outlook of development and achieving the harmonious development of the human beings and the nature, and set "building ecological civilization" and "a country with sound ecology and environment" as the important goals in building a well-off society in an all-round way.

To build the ecological civilization requires the acceleration of the development of modern forestry, and the establishment of a sound forestry ecological system a well-developed forestry industry system and a prosperous ecological cultural system, especially the strengthening of ecological development and natural conservation and the improvement of ecological condition of the national land. Further efforts shall be made in implementing such key ecological programs as the Natural Forest Protection Program, the Land Conversion Program, the Sandification Control Program for Areas in the Vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin, the "Three North" and the Yangtze Shelterbelt Development Program, the Program to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation in Rocky Regions, Soil and Water Conservation Program, Grassland Conservation Program, Wetland Conservation Program and Coastal Shelterbelt Development Program, so as to promote the natural rehabilitation and artificial rehabilitation of forest, wetland and grassland ecosystems. Meanwhile, measures shall be taken to enhance the forest management and protection and improve the quality of forest. Efforts shall be make to enhance the prevention and control of forest fires, exotic forest species and illegal confiscation of forest lands, proactively promote the forest health, strictly regulate the forest lands utilization and forest logging, and sternly safeguard the "red line" of a total forest area of 310 million ha, thus to achieve the objective of "the more we harvest, the more and the better we preserve to ensure permanent green mountains and sustainable utilization".

By strengthening ecological development and natural conservation, China will become a country with sound ecology and environment in 2020. The national forest cover will reach 20 percent by 2010, 23 percent by 2020, and will reach and maintain 26 percent by 2050. By 2020, the number of wetland nature reserves will reach 600, wetlands of international importance will reach about 80, and over 60 percent of natural wetlands will be effectively protected, so as to establish a comparatively complete wetland conservation and management system. By 2020, the nature reserves of forest and wild fauna type will amount to about 2300, covering a total area of 140 million ha, accounting for 14.5 percent of the total land area, putting 95 percent of the wild fauna and flora species of National Priority for Protection and all types of typical ecosystem under effective protection.

(China Development Gateway December 4, 2007)

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