China to launch natural forest logging ban in 2016

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-4 0:43:01

China will ban commercial logging of natural forests in State-owned plantations by the end of 2016, a move experts believe will have a positive impact on protecting the country's forest resources.

Zhang Yongli, deputy head of the State Forestry Bureau, said that China will also gradually stop commercial logging of collectively-owned natural forests beginning in 2017.

"As one of the world's largest consumers of wood products, China has been intensifying its forest protection efforts," an official from the State Forestry Bureau who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times.

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

The Chinese government has made great progress in tackling illegal logging and associated trade, according to an assessment released by London-based policy institute Chatham House in 2014.

"The release of a specific timetable may further promote the protection of forest resources in China, but it will take time to evaluate the results of those measures," Pan Wenjing, an expert on forest protection with Greenpeace, told the Global Times.

According to Pan, the ban on logging in natural forests may intensify the timber shortage in China, since the country has a strong demand for timber while it lacks usable and mature cultivated forests.

"Many cultivated forests in China are poorly managed and are not very productive, so the country needs to make more efforts to increase their productivity in a bid to meet the country's big demand for timber," Pan added.

Pan said the ban may boost illegal imports of timber, especially since more than half of China's timber is imported, much of it through illegal trade, Pan said.

Guangzhou customs seized 615 shipping containers holding 14,000 tons of smuggled rosewood valued at 1.05 billion yuan ($164 million), Xinhua reported on August 30, 2014.

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