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China sets ambitious forestry development goals for 2050

China’s forestry authority has recently revealed plans to boost the domestic forestry industry and increase its forest resources to the world’s average by 2050. According to a statement from State Council PRC, this means afforesting an additional 6.67 million hectares (ha) which is almost equivalent to the land area of the Republic of Ireland.

The plan, which was unveiled by Zhang Jianlong, Chief of State Forestry Administration at a conference earlier this month, is the latest move taken by government sectors to implement the ruling party’s modernization blueprint.

At its 19th National Congress in November 2017, China’s ruling party decided to make the country “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful” by 2050.

Inadequate forestry resources were a significant cause of China’s fragile ecology and the lack of ecological products, Zhang said.

Increase forest cover, standing volume and products value

Zhang said that by 2050, China’s forest stock will expand to 26.5 billion cubic meters, and 72 percent of the growth of forestry industry will come from technological advancement. Forest cover will also in line with the world average, which according to FAO is currently (2015) at 30.8 percent.

Although China has seen its forest resources growing fastest in the world in the past five years, Zhang said that forestry remained “a weak link” of China’s modernization drive. To improve the situation, the administration has broken down the country’s forestry modernization goals into different phases.

In the first phase from now until 2020, China’s forest coverage rate is expected to reach 23.04 percent from 21.66 percent, while the volume of forest resources will expand from 15.137 billion cubic meters to 16.5 billion cubic meters.

From 2020 to 2035, the percentage of forest coverage will grow further to 26 percent while forest stock will rise to 21 billion cubic meters. Over the same period, the greening rate in the rural area will surge from 30 percent to 38 percent. By 2050, the figure will reach 43 percent.

Zhang said that in 2018, the afforested areas in both cities and counties would be 6.67 million hectares. Furthermore, he said that the aggregate output of the forestry industry will reach CNY 7.5 trillion (≈ US$1.17 trillion) in 2018 compared with CNY 7 trillion (≈ US$1.1 trillion) in 2017, while the imports and exports of forestry products will rise to US$160 billion from US$150 billion in 2017.

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