Thursday, January 17, 2008

China's man-made forest

China’s most recent Five Year Plan confirms that economic growth continues to be the party leaders’ number one priority even in the face of growing concerns over the environmental impacts associated with its economic strategy. At the same time, the plan makes a strong commitment to implement programs and strategies designed address the country's expanding list of serious environmental issues in recognition of the potential roadblocks they represent along the path to prosperity. This environmental agenda includes programs promoting energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy and tree planting.

Just how effective these efforts will be in offsetting the impacts of China’s continued dependence on coal and increasing demand for forest products remains to be seen. (GW)

China to plant 2.5 billion trees

People's Daily Online
January 15, 2008

Authorities yesterday unveiled a reforestation plan to plant 2.5 billion trees covering more than 5.3 million hectares this year, the top forest management official said yesterday.

Jia Zhibang, director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), also said the country aims to create forest products valued at 1.4 trillion yuan ($193 billion) this year.

Last year, the country increased its forest coverage by 5.2 million hectares, equivalent to 2.27 billion trees, and produced forest goods valued at about 1.2 trillion yuan, 9.85 percent higher than in 2006.

Jia said a recent United Nations survey on global forest resources showed that China's annual forest plantation growth accounts for 53 percent of global forest growth effected by humans, given the fact that China's man-made forest coverage accounts for a third of the world's total.

About 666 million hectares of trees in the world are being cut annually, but China contributes more than 400 million hectares of forest growth to stem that, the SFA's figures show.

"China has become one of the countries which embraces fast growth of forest coverage," Jia said. "It has made contributions to counter the negative effects of logging."

Jia said forest administrations of all levels will give priority to protecting and planting trees.

"China's target of increasing green coverage from the current 18.21 percent to 20 percent in 2010 must be met," he said.

Aside from reforestation, protecting wetlands, controlling desertification and protecting wildlife are also on the SFA's agenda for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The wetlands of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers will be put under protection, Jia said.

So far, 47 percent of the country's wetlands have been effectively put under conservation, he said.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the country's Three-North Forest Shelterbelt Program, a greenbelt established in the northwest, north central and northeast regions to buffer desertification.

Jia said Minqin county and the Shiyang River basin in Gansu and the Loess Plateau will be key areas for planters fighting encroaching sands.


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