HOHHOT — China is home to 69.3 million hectares of artificial forest, the most in the world, following more than six decades of afforestation work, said Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration.
Total forest acreage has grown to 3.12 billion mu (208 million ha) from 1.24 billion mu in early 1950s, covering 21.66 percent of the land area, compared with 8.6 percent more than 60 years ago, Zhang said at a national conference on accelerating afforestation over the weekend in Hohhot.
Zhang said the administration aims to have more trees planted in areas along the Belt and Road Initiative region, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and the Yangtze River economic belt.
Drought and excessive lumbering with little awareness of conservation had deteriorated water and soil erosion as well as desertification in the country. China launched a 70-year program of planting trees in its northern, northwestern, and northeastern parts to improve eco environment in 1979.
China has effectively contained desertification, with desert land area shrinking continuously over the past decade.
The area of formerly productive land degrading into deserts has been contracting at an annual average of 2,424 square km for over 10 consecutive years, Zhang said in a separate occasion.