China Releases Ten-Year Forest Protection Plan

By Ruoji Tang
Published: 2010-08-25

China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) held a press conference yesterday to announce that the recently published "National Plan for the Use and Protection of Forest Land (2010-2020)," had been passed, in principle, by the State Council.

The document outlines the department's ten-year program to expand and protect China's forests.

Currently, the area of forested land per capita in China is only 22% of the world's average.

According to the plan, China expects to have 312.3 million hectares of forested land (including land set aside for forestation) and 223 hectares of forest reserves by 2020, increasing total forest reserves by around 1.2 billion cubic meters.

According to the plan, over 23% of Chinese land will be covered by forests by 2020.

The plan also details long-term goals involving forest management, productivity, and controlling forest use. The SFA hopes ultimately to increase national forest reserves to 15.8 billion cubic meters.

This, along with other efforts, reflects the nation's growing commitment to environmental protection.

But forest degradation remains a costly side effect of the nation’s rapid economic development.

SFA statistics demonstrate an increase in the misuse of land covered by forest, listing over 39,000 cases of illegal land use from 2006 to 2008, resulting in a total loss of 49,000 hectares of forest land.

Ecological damage brought about by deforestation has contributed to desertification and an increased number of natural disasters in recent years. 

China has experienced some 15 landslides this year, including the deadly mudslide in Gansu's Zhouqu county that, as of Friday, had claimed over 1,400 lives.

The landslides are likely caused by soil erosion from deforestation and climate change.

Zhan Jian, deputy director of the SFA, expects the ten year plan to be a milestone in forest conservation and expansion. The plan also marks a step toward addressing global climate change as well as domestic ecological damage.

Links and Sources
State Forestry Administration:
我国制定首个中长期林地保护利用规划 (Chinese)
Xinhua: 国家林业局:全国林地保护利用规划纲要出台(Chinese)
CRI Online: 中国制定首个中长期林地保护利用规划 (Chinese)
AP: Scores still missing in SW China mudslides
Image: Forest