China Reforestation Becoming A Global Model

Economic Growth Has Taken Its Toll On China’s Natural Resources

The Chinese government has payed close attention to ecological and environmental issues for years. Contrary to popular belief, sustainability and environmental protection are long-term strategies vital to the country’s health and wealth.

climate change and deforestation

China started framing environmental protection as a fundamental national policy in the 1980s. It established sustainable development as a national strategy in the 1990s. At the turn of the century, the government proposed a “Scientific Outlook on Development” that is people-centered, fully coordinated, and environmentally sustainable. Since 2012, the government has incorporated Eco-civilization into the national blueprint, which outlines a commitment to “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.”

This blueprint has given great impetus to the implementation of Eco-civilization with environmental quality at its core aiming at making the skies bluer, mountains greener, water cleaner, and the ecological environment better.

President Xi Jinping has pointed out that green is gold and that moving towards a new era of eco-civilization and building a beautiful China are key to realizing the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the nation.

Since its reform and opening-up thirty years ago, the country has seen its economy grow at an annual average of 9.8 percent. It has successfully transitioned from a low-income to a high middle-income country with significant economic achievements, almost having reached levels of industrialization and urbanization that took one to two hundred years in developed countries.

Meanwhile, China has paid a heavy environmental price, with the emergence of problems such as soot pollution, ozone depletion, fine particulate matters (PM2.5), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Pollution from different sources – production and households, urban and rural, industry and transport – appear to be intertwined with each other.

China deforestation

For years China was notorious for denuding its forests of vegetation to expand its economy. The economy grew, but water sources were tainted, air polluted and animal habitats demolished. Only a few years ago, just two percent of China’s forests were undisturbed. Deadly floods in 1998 caused by the lack of trees prompted the government to finally take action. They implemented the National Forest Conservation Program.

China banned logging in many areas and then paid farmers, who were accustomed to earning money by cutting down trees for wood, to plant trees instead. Some local citizens were paid to monitor forests and report illegal logging activity. The Chinese government claims that the conservation and reforestation plans are working.

Scientists from the University of Michigan evaluated the Chinese government’s conservation measures using images from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. They studied data between 2000 and 2010 and found forest cover has grown rapidly in 1.6 percent of China. That may not sound like much, but it’s about 61,000 square miles. Meanwhile. 0.38 percent of the nation suffered from deforestation – that’s around 14,400 square miles.

deforestation China

The research isn’t simply a green light for China to continue every current policy. They’re importing more wood now, from countries such as Vietnam, Madagascar, and Russia, which the scientists warned causes deforestation in those other countries.

China plans to cover nearly a quarter of the country in forest by 2020, according to an announcement made via a United Nations report. The goal is part of a larger plan to build an ecological civilization that will serve as a model for future projects around the world.

“The outdated view that man can conquer nature and ignore the bearing capacity of resources and the environment should be completely abandoned,” said Zhu Guangyao, executive vice president of the Chinese Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association. “Conscientious efforts should be made to live in harmony with nature.”

giant panda conservation

In addition to planting, the country will also step up efforts to restore 35 percent of the natural shorelines, reclaim more than half of the desert, and increase prairie vegetation coverage by 56 percent.

“If China succeeds in implementing targets outlined in its ecological blue print, then it will have taken a major step towards shifting to a greener economy,” Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said.

To address the dilemmas between economic development and resource/environmental constraints, the government has most recently proposed a policy of pursuing green development and building an Eco-civilization, which involves management of the relationship between humans and nature in a comprehensive, scientific, and systematic manner. It embodies the green is gold perspective of values, development, and governance. It goes beyond and does away with the traditional development patterns and models, guiding the transformation of the production methods and the lifestyle of the entire society.

As China firmly supports and actively implements the concept and actions of sustainable development at the global level, its effort to build an Eco-civilization will make a significant contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The country’s practices and experiments to promote an Eco-civilization will not only contribute to addressing its own resource and environmental challenges but also serve as demonstrations for other developing countries that may wish to avoid the dependence on, and the lock-in effect of traditional development pathways. This is conducive to promoting the establishment of a new global environmental governance system and benefitting the noble course of sustainable development for all people, men and women.

Reforestation China via

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information

Reforestation Project in China Earns Carbon Credits

Carbon Capture An Emerging Priority In China

A project that has reforested 3,000 hectares of previously barren land in China’s southwest Guangxi is issuing its first carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism. The Facilitating Reforestation for Guangxi Watershed Management in Pearl River Basin Project was the first reforestation project to be registered in the world under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which yesterday issued 131,964 temporary Certified Emission Reductions.

giant panda conservation

“With fast restoration and expansion of forest areas in recent years, China has great potential for carbon sequestration through afforestation and reforestation. The Guangxi project has demonstrated an innovative and effective approach to mitigating climate change,” said Klaus Rohland, World Bank’s Country Director for China.

The Guangxi Watershed in the Pearl River Basin, one of the richest and most diverse areas in terms of flora in the country, suffered greatly from deforestation since the 1950s. This, in addition to grazing, frequent fires and the use of wood for fuel, caused severe degradation of the original native forest. Despite efforts to restore forests in the 1990s, many areas remained either bare or sparsely populated with trees.

Supported by the provincial and local governments, local farmer communities are working with Kangyuan and Fuyuan forest farms, Xinghuan Forestry Development Company and Luhuan Forestry Development Company to restore the forest by planting mostly native species. Reforestation in this degraded region has played a vital role in terms of biodiversity, soil, and water conservation. The plantations established along the Pearl River, the third longest river in China, support both conservation and watershed management by controlling water erosion, and enhance biodiversity by improving habitats, increasing the connectivity of forests adjacent to nature reserves.

deforestation and climate change

On a local level, the project uses innovative approaches, by enabling the carbon sequestered by trees to act as a “virtual cash crop”. Communities benefit from the direct income from the sale of the carbon credits to the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and from the products such as resin that the trees provide. Together, the villages decide which projects will be implemented, and local forestry companies provide them with training and technical services. In addition to providing a steady income from the sale of carbon credits and forestry products, the project will be able to involve about 15,000 local farmers in the planting and maintenance process, creating about 3.8 million person-days in temporary jobs and 30 long-term job positions over the 30-year crediting period.

The project has also raised the awareness of climate change among villagers. “We never realized that we could benefit from selling fresh air, said 47-year old Tan Jiming from Leyi Village in Huanjiang County of Guangxi. Registered in 2007, this project helps to demonstrate that carbon revenues can enhance the long-term financial sustainability of a project as well as building forestry management capacity at both central and provincial levels. In 2010, the China Green Carbon Foundation was launched following this same approach of greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration through reforestation.

This project has attracted the attention of different sectors and regions, and we have seen a steady stream of visitors from other parts of China and abroad. We are very pleased to have shared our experience and lessons learned – it has really played a demonstrative role as a successful pilot project,” said Li Guiyu, Director of the Project Management Office in the Guangxi Forestry Bureau.

reforestation and forest conservation


The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is one of the flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol intended to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere in a cost-effective manner. The CDM allows emission-reduction (or emission removal) projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one metric ton of carbon dioxide. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, created in 2004, is purchasing credits from over 20 afforestation and reforestation projects under the CDM in more than 16 countries and five regions of the world. The Fund’s resources are allocated to projects on degraded lands: half to projects with environmental restoration purposes, 25 percent for fuel-wood and 21 percent for timber. All of the projects directly benefit poor farmers; in most of them, farmers are planting their own lands.


climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support.