China eyes scientific, quality land-greening work
China's efforts to implement afforestation and environmental schemes in recent years have met with considerable success, a fact reflected in the large increase in forest coverage nationwide.
However, the country is now switching from the emphasis on quantity-based greening to a more balanced approach, giving greater weight to the factor of quality.
This new approach is encapsulated in a guideline on scientific greening issued recently by the State Council. The guideline encourages a more scientific approach to the planning of land-greening work, to assist government bodies and local governments with future afforestation work.
China has built the world's largest planted forests, raising its forest cover from 12 percent in the early 1980s to 23.04 percent in 2020, with its forest stock volume hitting 17.56 billion cubic meters, official data shows. But, as officials explained at a press conference on Monday, the quantity-based efforts have often come at a price.
Speaking at the press conference, Liu Dongsheng, deputy director of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), said that, despite the success, mass tree-planting campaigns in the country have been beset by problems, such as unscientific planning and unrealistic administrative orders. Some local authorities have sought quick greening results at the cost of ecological quality, said Liu.
The new guideline seeks to address such issues, making clear the requirements regarding where land-greening work should be conducted, what species of plant the country should cultivate, how the government should implement afforestation projects, and how to monitor and evaluate the country's afforestation work, said Liu.
According to the guideline, China must improve the quality of its forests, optimize the structure and function of forests, and improve the quality, stability and carbon sequestration capacity of forest ecosystems.
Starting this year, the country will moderately reduce the proportion of artificial forests and enhance the conservation and restoration of degraded forests, according to the NFGA.
Also at the Monday press conference was Zhou Yuanbo, an official with the Ministry of Natural Resources. He hailed the new emphasis on scientific planning, and said the country should properly allocate land for greening projects, taking into consideration the land-use structure, local water resources and the suitability of plants.
For example, in urban areas, local governments should make plans and set clear greening targets, including the urban green spaces and the amount of parkland per capita, said Zhou.
Urban greening should be carried out in an economical and practical manner, Zhou said, adding that the transplanting of big trees into cities should not be allowed, since it damages the health of trees and harms the ecological environment.