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Enhance Ecological Improvement, Fulfill Green Commitment

The State Forestry Administration

June 17, 2008

The Chinese government has taken the protection and development of forest resources and the enhancement of ecological improvement as its key strategic task and made significant achievements in this regard. Since "Green Olympics" is established as one of the three concepts of the Beijing Olympics 2008, the Chinese government has taken many significant measures in the control of sand storms and the greening of national land and the Olympic venues, greatly improved the ecological conditions of Beijing and the peripheral areas and carried out the commitment of "Green Olympics".

I. Carrying out National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign Vigorously with the Area of Plantation Ranking the First in the World

Since March 12 was defined as China's National Tree Planting Day in 1979 and the Resolution on Carrying out National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign was issued at the Forth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress on December 13, 1981, the National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign has been carried out in China vigorously, which boasts the most prominent tree planting campaign of the largest scale involving the largest number of people in the world. By the end of 2007, the National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign had involved 10.98 billion person times with a total of 51.45 billion trees having been planted, and the obligation fulfilling rate was as high as 58 percent.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China have planted over 2 billion trees every year and established more than 5 million ha of plantation. The current forest area has increased to over 175 million ha from 115 million ha in 1981, the stock volume 13.618 billion m3 from 10.26 billion m3, the forest cover 18.21 percent from 12 percent. The area of plantation reaches 53.26 million ha, taking up one third of the total in the world and ranking the first in the world. Despite the fact that forest resources in the world are generally decreasing, the forest resources in China are growing continuously and are growing at the fastest speed.

II. Implementing a Series of Key Forestry Ecological Programs as a Great Contribution to the Ecology of China and the World

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has implemented a series of key forestry ecological programs including the Natural Forest Protection Program, the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program, the Sandification Control Program in the Vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin, which have all turned out significant achievements.

The Natural Forest Protection Program. Since the initiation of the Program in 1998, a total of 2.1882 million ha of artificial plantation, 2.9726 million ha of afforestation by aerial seeding and 10.8682 million ha of forest enclosed for natural regeneration have been completed. A total of 426 million m3 of forest resources have been saved from consumption, effectively protecting 98.3772 million ha of forest. The net increase of forest area has reached 8.157 million ha, and that of the stock volume reached 460 million m3 within the program areas.

The "Three North" Shelterbelt Development Program and the Sandification Control Program for the Areas in Vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin. The "Three North" Shelterbelt Development Program has completed 23.74 million ha of plantation. The forest cover within the program areas has increased to 10.51% from 5.05 percent in 1977, and the stock volume 1 billion m3 from 720 million m3. The Sandification Control Program for Areas in Vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin was implemented in 75 counties in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia from 2000 to 2007, putting a total area of 6.6942 million ha under control. The vegetation within the Program regions has been rehabilitated and the ecological environment basically improved. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the land desertification in China has decreased by 1,283 km2 per year, putting an end to the trend that the land desertification increased by 3,436 km2 per year in the 1990s.

The Program of Shelterbelt Development in the Yangtze River Basin. The Program has completed a total of 8.32 million ha of afforestation and put 65,000 km2 of soil and water erosion under control. The forest cover in the Yangtze River Basin has increased by 9.6 percentage points.

The Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program. From 1999 to 2007, a total of 9.0498 million ha of farmlands have been converted into forest, 12.6213 million ha of plantation established on barren hills and barren land, and 1.5952 million ha of forest enclosed for natural regeneration. The Chinese government made an important decision in August 2007 that the time frame of the subsidy for cropland conversion be prolonged for another cycle when it comes due according to the original policy. The extra investment from the central budget increased the total input for the Land Conversion Program to 431 billion yuan, an equal of 2.4 times of the investment for the Three Gorges Project or 13 times of the investment for the construction of Qinghai-Tibetan railway.

The Forest Industrial Base Development Program in Key Regions with a Focus on Fast-growing & High-yield Timber Plantations. A total of 4.90 million ha of fast-growing and high-yield plantation has been established in China . From 1988 to 2007, a total of 7.10 million ha of plantation was established in plain areas and the forest cover increased to 15.8 percent from 7.3 percent in 1987.

The Wildlife Conservation & Nature Reserve Development Program. The ex-situ conservation and the rescuing and breeding of endangered wild fauna and flora have been actively carried out. The number of Giant Panda raised in captivity and the wild population reach 239 and 1,596 respectively. The number of crested ibis, which was only seven when it was discovered, has increased to over 1,000. Thousands of endangered wild plants have been put under protection. By 2006, 2,395 nature reserves were established, covering over 15 percent of the national terrestrial land area, which was above the world average. More than 50,000 sub-nature reserves with a total area of over 1.50 million ha, have been set up. The nature reserves network, which covers 20 percent of high quality natural forest and 30 percent of typical desertified area, functions an effective protection of 90 percent of the terrestrial ecosystem, 85 percent of wild fauna and 65 percent of higher flora.

National Wetland Protection Program. About 200 projects have been implemented regarding wetland protection, rehabilitation, sustainable use and capacity building. There are 30 wetlands of international importance in China, covering an area of 3.58 million ha. Some 18 national wetland parks have been established covering an area of 270,000 ha. More than 470 wetland nature reserves have been set up, putting 17.15 million ha of wetlands, 45 percent of the total, under effective protection. The ecological functions of some degraded wetlands are being rehabilitated and the demonstration model of sustainable use of wetland is taking shape.

III. Actively Carrying out the Campaigns of "Building National Forest City" and “Creating Green Homeland, Building Rich New Village” so as to Realize the Integrity of Urban and Rural Greening.

In recent years, the concept of forest city has been advocated and put into practice. Under the slogan of "building forest in city and allowing the city to embrace the forest", seven cities are awarded the title of "National Forest City". The green cover of the urban communities has increased to 36 percent from 10.1 percent in 1981, and the public green area per capita 8.6 m2 from 3.45 m2. In rural areas, the notion of "Greening Homeland and Economy Development Go Hand in Hand" has been put forward. With the promotion of the construction of new countryside, the local ecological and residential conditions have greatly improved. Some of the villages have created ecological green residential surroundings. A number of high standard Greening/Ecological Demonstration Towns and Villages, suburb forest parks and ecological recreation parks have been established in many regions.

IV. Proactively Conducting Law Enforcement, Protecting Green Achievements Legally.

The forest and wildlife conservation law system, with the main body of Forest Law, Wild Animal Protection Law, and Desertification Control Law, has been set up. The forest police, forest armed police and forest law enforcement team have been established to combat excessive logging and hunting of wild animal, illegal encroaching on forest land and wetland each year, nearly 1 million forest and wild animal cases have been handled during recent five years.

V. Actively Advocating "Green Olympics" Theme, 7 Promised Greening Targets Have All Been Achieved.

"Green Olympics, Hi-tech Olympics and People Friendly Olympics" are the three main themes of Beijing Olympic Games, the greening development is the foundation of "Green Olympics". Since China's successfully bid for 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, Chinese government vigorously supported Beijing Municipality to conduct afforestation and greening, by the end of 2007, 7 Olympic greening targets promised in Beijing's bidding report had all been achieved. The green cover of Beijing, the green cover in mountainous area, and the green cover in urban area have reached 51.6 percent, 70.49 percent and 43 percent respectively, which all have exceeded the target of 50 percent, 70 percent and 40 percent respectively; three green ecological barriers have been basically formed, which present a beautiful scenery that green mountains circle the city; 23,000 ha of greening belt along "five lakes and ten roads" was promised, currently 25,000 ha has been accomplished; 12,000 ha of greening isolated belt was promised in urban area, 12,600 ha of forest has been established in total; the area of nature reserve was promised to exceed 8 percent of the total land area of Beijing, by 2007, 134,200 ha of nature reserve were established in Beijing, accounting for 8.18 percent of the total land area of Beijing. Meanwhile, urban green land area per capita and public green land area per capita in Beijing have reached 48 m2 and 12.6 m2 respectively.

VI. Setting "Building Ecological Culture" as National Strategy, Endeavoring to Improve Social Ecological Awareness.

Last year, the Communist Party of China and Chinese government proposed the strategy goal of building ecological culture, which is building China to become a country with good ecological environment in 2020. The basic structure of building forest ecosystem, protecting wetland ecosystem, improving desertified ecosystem, maintaining biodiversity, strengthening ecological development and advocating ecological culture has been established, the guideline of "mobilizing the whole society to develop forestry" has been confirmed, citizens' awareness of voluntarily afforestation and protecting forest and wild animal has been improved generally. The national forest cover shall reach 20 percent by 2010, reach 23 percent by 2020, reach and maintain 26 percent by 2050. By 2030, the number of wetland nature reserves shall reach 713, wetlands of international importance shall reach about 80, over 90 percent of natural wetlands shall be effectively protected, and a quite complete wetland conservation and management system shall be established. By 2050, the nature reserves of forest and wild fauna shall amount to about 2,600, covering a total area of 154 million ha, accounting for 16 percent of the total land area. 85 percent of the wild fauna and flora species under the state priority protection shall be rehabilitated and increased, and all typical ecosystem types shall be well protected to ensure species safety.

VII. Proactively Conducting International Cooperation, Making Contribution to Global Ecological Improvement.

In September, 2007, at the 15th APEC Conference held in Sydney, Australia, President Hu Jintao, Chairman of China made an important advocate to establish "Asia-Pacific forest rehabilitation and sustainable management network" from the strategic level of maintaining global climate safety, and promised that the forest cover of China will increase from 18.21 percent to 20 percent by 2010, which is regarded as the "forest plan" to deal with climate change. Currently, the preparation of network development has been basically finished; China is fastening to achieve the forest cover target of 20 percent.

Chinese government actively takes part in global plantations to fulfill its responsibility as a big country. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiated the "1 billion plantations campaign", on this basis, it recently initiated "6.7 billion plantations campaign", proposing to plant another 6.7 billion trees before the United Nations Framework Convention Conference on Climate Change in 2009, to achieve the goal that each person plants a tree in the world. Chinese government attaches great importance to and actively takes part in the "1 billion plantations campaign" and "6.7 billion plantations campaign" to make greater contribution in improving global ecosystem. China's plantation annually far exceeds the 1 billion plantations target raised by UNEP. Taking the rule that all kinds of planting activities can be regarded as the fulfillment of "6.7 billion plantations campaign", by the current afforestation speed of China, Chinese government can excessively achieve the target required by "6.7 billion plantations campaign".

Chinese government sincerely implements international conventions, proactively participates in combating illegal timber trade, established cooperation schemes to fight against timber and wild animal smuggling with different countries, encourages enterprises to participate in global forest resource breeding and sustainable management, and issued "Chinese Enterprises' Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Forest Abroad" to promote global forest resource rehabilitation and sustainable development.

At present, China is still a country with low forest cover and fragile ecological condition, forest area per capita and stock volume per capita are still lagging, especially China suffered from rare frozen blizzard disaster and earthquake disaster successively this year, forest resource and wild animal were seriously damaged. Chinese government is taking a series of sound measures to ensure the objective of quick improvement of ecological condition. Firstly, moderately enlarges the plantation scale, strives to make the net increase of forest area over 2.45 million ha in the future three years. Secondly, vigorously promote forest management projects to further enlarge the forest management scale, with focus on national key public forest management programs, to greatly improve China's forest resource stock and carbon sequestration ability. Thirdly, strengthen the conservation and law enforcement on forest resource, especially forest land, take the strictest measures to reduce human deforestation such as forest fire, and improve the habitat environment of wild animal. Fourthly, conduct collective forest tenure right reform nationwide, by the means of household contracting; distribute management right of forest land and ownership of trees of 2.5 billion mu collective forest in five years. Fifthly, vigorously develop forest industry on the basis of forest to improve forestry and enrich citizens.

(China Development Gateway June 17, 2008)

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