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UPDATED: June 5, 2012
China Adds 60 Mln Hectares of Forest Area

China's total forest area has increased to 195 million hectares from 134 million hectares in 1992, marking a net gain of 60 million hectares within 20 years, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said Monday.

Despite a decreasing global forest reserve, China's forest inventory expanded by 3.6 billion cubic meters to reach 13.7 billion cubic meters during the past 20 years, SFA Vice Minister Yin Hong said at a press conference.

China has strengthened its fiscal support for increasing forest area, launched a number of national ecological projects and implemented a nationwide compulsory tree-planting program to expand forests since the inking of the first global environmental treaty at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, Yin said.

The country currently has 61.68 million hectares of man-made forest, the most in the world, and 7.81 billion tons of forest-carbon stock. Its desertification area is dropping by 1,717 square km annually, compared to an annual expansion of 3,436 square km at the end of the 1990s, according to Yin.

Yin said the Chinese Government will continue to increase investment in the sector, focusing its energy on forest cultivation, wetland, wildlife and habitat protection, and land desertification control.

China aims to expand its total forest area by 40 million hectares, and its total forest inventory by 1.3 billion cubic meters from 2005 to 2020.

Moreover, the country will convert 16 million mu (1.07 million hectares) of farmland into forest during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), Yin said.

The "grain-for-green program" will be carried out in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the stony deserts in southwest China and the northwestern Loess Plateau, she said.

To date, China has invested 325 billion yuan ($51.59 billion) in converting cropland to forests, and it converted 434 million mu (28.93 million hectares) of farmland from 1999 to 2011, she noted.

In regards to global forest protection, Yin said all parties concerned should cherish the hard-won outcome of consultations on forest protection following the 1992 Rio de Janeiro conference, and they should work together to establish a global forest governance system that adapts to the times.

Yin said China hopes efforts will be made in three aspects: objectively assessing forest value to make sustainable management a core theme for forest development; adopting effective measures to reverse the trend of global forest loss; and, showing more political will in breaking the financial bottleneck in global forest development.

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2012)

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