Forests help absorb carbon dioxide

By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-06 06:54

A national forestation drive has helped curb climate change and improve the environment through carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption and bio-fuel production, the country's forestry administration said yesterday.

Cao Qingyao, a spokesman for the State Forestry Administration (SFA), told a news conference in Beijing, that China was expanding its forest coverage by about 500 million cubic m every year. The country's forests absorb approximately 900 million tons of CO2 a year.

Cao said the figures were based on expert opinion that 1 cubic m of timber can absorb 1.83 tons of CO2 and release 1.62 tons of oxygen every year.

The authorities launched a national tree-planting campaign back in the 1980s. The country now has more than 175 million hectares of green coverage, which accounts for more than 18 percent of its land area.

As a result of the forestation program, some 4.7 billion tons of CO2 have since been absorbed.

"However, China boasts only 0.38 cu m of timber per hectare, just two-thirds of the world average. So it still has a large potential for tree growth, as well as carbon adsorption." Cao said

The country plans to increase its green coverage to 20 percent by 2010, which will help it hit its target of cutting energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010.

In addition, the country is trying to produce clean energy from tree planting, Cao said.

China plans to grow 830,000 hectares of bio-energy forest from 2006 to 2010 as a pilot project.

Cao said once the bio-energy forests were grown, it could provide bio-fuel for decades, without ecological functions such as CO2 absorption and oxygen emission being weakened.

China currently has 4 million hectares of such forest, which can produce 300 million tons of bio-fuel, or 200 million tons of coal equivalent.

There are also more than 57 million hectares of barren mountains and fields, suitable for such trees planting, Cao said.

The SFA plans to enlarge the bio-energy forest to 13 million hectares by 2020, which would provide more than 6 million tons of bio-diesel and meet the demand for 15 million kilowatts of installed capability of power generation.

Cao said the SFA is working with PetroChina Company Ltd, China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Corporation and the State Grid to push forward the bio-energy industry.

(China Daily 06/06/2007 page4)

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