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China’s progress toward revitalizing natural forests

Updated: Mar 17,2017 9:29 AM     Xinhua

The commercial harvesting of natural forest resources in China has been ended, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

China fully stopped the commercial harvesting of forests in key areas like Inner Mongolia and Jilin province as early as 2015, marking the start of China’s three-step plan for natural forest conservation.

This year saw the release of a new national plan which envisages China establishing 20 national forest reserves in seven areas such as the southeast coast and the middle and lower reaches of Yangze River, while aiming to keep its dependence upon timber imports below 30 percent.

China is the world’s biggest timber import, and the second largest consumer of timber.

China also has an increasingly rigid demand for timber, which will reach 700 million cubic meters by 2020, says Yan Zhen, an official from SFA.

Forestry growth yields per hectare in China is a mere 89.79 cubic meters, which is less than half that of Japan, and a quarter of Germany. In 2013, China witnessed a timber consumption of 522 million cubic meters, among which 47.7 percent came from imports, reports the The Paper.

Earlier this week, the first national forest reserves base program was launched in Puyang, Henan province, aiming to develop more than 23,000 hectares of reserved forest, with a total investment of 9.9 billion yuan (around $1.4 million), according to Xinhua News Agency.

It’s estimated, to fulfill the target of all national forest reserves, it will cost nearly 520 billion yuan(around $5.4 billion), which is beyond the resources of state funding, says Yan.

To achieve the target, the SFA is looking to other investment and financing models. So far, as many as 40 forest reserves project loans have been approved, with the value of loan agreements reaching 75.5 billion yuan(around $11 billion), revealed Yan.

Meanwhile, four to five eligible provinces will be chosen this year to launch the pilot forest program through Public-Private-Partnerships(PPP), Yan added.