China to stop commercial logging of natural forests

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-18 23:53:01

China will gradually stop commercial logging of natural forests and expand forest coverage in key zones to promote ecological progress, according to recent guidelines on State-owned forest zones released by the State Council.

According to the guidelines, commercial logging of natural forests should be stopped by 2020. The forest coverage in key areas should also be increased by 5.5 million mu (366,000 hectares).

China logs about 49.94 million cubic meters of natural forests each year, and initiated a landmark pilot program banning all commercial logging of natural forests in key forest zones in Northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province in April 2014, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The guidelines stipulate that the pilot program will be applied in other key forest zones, including zones in Jilin Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. 

State plantations are also asked to reduce harvesting from man-made forests for business purposes by 20 percent by 2020, according to a plan for national forest farms.

It also said that forested areas will also be increased by 100 million mu, with more than 600 million cubic meters of forest growing stock added to State forest farms.

"It is urgent to implement reforms of national forest farms and zones," Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Administration, told the Economic Daily, adding that China should stick to the principles of "do not destroy forestry resources" and "do not lose State property" during the reforms.

"Northern China now faces a shortage of mature, usable forests. The release of the plan and the guidance marked a new phase wherein China protects natural forests instead of developing forestry resources," said Zhang Mingxiang, a professor at Beijing Forestry University.

The plan also urged national forest farms and zones to separate government functions from enterprise management and called for more fiscal, financial and infrastructure support to facilitate sustainable development and improve employees' livelihoods.

Zhang said that the implementation of the plan will help solve long-standing problems in State-owned forest farms and zones such as weak resource management and low pay for employees.

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