Open Governance
Sichuan’s Forest Area Has Increased by 100 Million Mu Since the Initiation of the Natural Forest Protection Program 20 Years Ago

  In 1998, among all Chinese provinces, Sichuan took the lead in launching the Natural Forest Protection Program. Over the past 20 years, the forest area of Sichuan has increased from 176 million mu to 276 million mu, lifting its forest coverage rate to 38.03%, an increase of 13.8 percentage points. According to comprehensive calculations, the value of Sichuan's ecological services has reached RMB 1.76 trillion, ranking among the top three in China. On October 31st, Sichuan Provincial Department of Forestry held a news briefing conference in Chengdu, and exposed its “achievements” since the initiation of the Natural Forest Protection Program.

  Since the founding of the New China in 1949 to 1998, Sichuan had established, according to the needs of national economic development, more than 100 forestry enterprises which had produced more than 120 million cubic meters of timber in total. However, the forest industry enterprises were caught in a resource and economic crisis in entering the 1990s, resulting in the deteriorated ecological situation of the province. On September 1st, 1998, complying with the deployment of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, Sichuan banned commercial logging across the board. With the initiation of the Natural Forest Protection Program, Sichuan has turned its wood-cutters into tree-planters and forest-preservers by centering on its goal to upgrade the ecological, economic and social benefits of forests in Sichuan. Since then, Sichuan has been exploring new modes for managing and protecting its forest resources, and blazing new paths for developing forest-related economies. In terms of ecology, in the next year following the initiation of the Natural Forest Protection Program, Sichuan has formulated the first provincial-level regulation regarding natural forest protection, one that incorporated the forest coverage rate as an indicator for assessing the development level of its county economy. At the same time, with the Natural Forest Protection Program serving as the starting point, Sichuan has successively launched key ecological projects such as returning farmland to forests and grasslands, wildlife protection, sand prevention and control, desertification management, and arid valley improvement. It has also constructed an all-round ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. At present, the forest ecosystem of our province could conserve 75.72 billion tons of water per year, equivalent to the storage capacity of 700 large reservoirs, which is capable of reducing water and soil loss by 140 million tons per year.

  In terms of economic field, Sichuan’s forest industries have cultivated new forms of plantation, ecotourism and forest health. By the end of last year, the area and output of bamboo, pepper, walnut and other characteristic forest industries have ranked among the highest in the country, and the total forestry output value of our province has exceeded RMB 340 billion. In terms of social benefits, in the past 20 years, the amount of central and provincial government have invested a total of RMB 43 billion in the management, subsidies and construction of Sichuan Natural Forest Protection Program. On that basis, Sichuan has included 288 million mu of forests in the management and protection program, providing jobs for a total of 91,000 lumberjacks. The scope of ecological compensation for Natural Forest Protection Program has been extended to state-owned forests and public welfare forests, benefiting 5.89 million peasant households of over 24 million people in the province each year.

  The relevant person in charge of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Forestry introduced that Sichuan will further establish a graded supervision system for state-owned forest resources on top of the opportunities brought about by the reform of the state-owned forest farms.

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