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Tree-planting drive paying off
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-14 00:13

The nation's massive tree-planting campaign is starting to pay dividends as the coverage area and survival rate of new forests are increasing, according to the State Forestry Administration.

The enormous afforestation effort was launched in 1998.

The verified afforestation area expanded by 9 million hectares in 2003, up 18 per cent compared to the year earlier, according to the latest administration statistics.

A record 7.5 million hectares, up 3.5 per cent compared with the year earlier, were planted by humans in 2003.

And more than 90 per cent of that total met the high standards set by the State.

By last year, more than 46 million hectares had been planted by humans, which was the most by any country worldwide.

More than 90 per cent of the trees investigated were in good condition. The survival rate of newly planted trees now tops 85 per cent.

Almost 90 per cent of the replanting had been completed with help from government-backed projects, the survey indicates.

Meanwhile, the private sector is playing an increasingly significant role in promoting afforestation.

Of all work completed in 2003, 80 per cent was undertaken by non-government entities, which was up by 10 per cent compared with the previous year.

Since the late 1990s, China has been budgeting for its massive afforestation work and adopted a raft of controls, paying particular attention to better handling forest fires -- a major threat to forestry resources.

State Forestry Administration Director Zhou Shengxian revealed that there were more than 13,400 forest fires in China last year.

However, the area devastated was down compared with previous years.

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