1. Country Information
1.1Total Area and Population
Located in the east of the Asian continent and on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a vast country with a land area of about 9.6 million sq km. Its other territorial area, including territorial waters, exclusive economic zones and continental shelf, exceeds 3 million sq km, adding up to a total area of 13 million sq km.
By the end of 2016, the population of China has reached 1.38 billion, the birth rate 12.95‰, mortality rate 7.095‰, and natural population growth rate 5.86‰.
In the southwest of China, Mount Qomolangma (or Mount Everest) is soaring 8,848 m above sea level, the world’s highest peak and the main peak of the Himalayas which is called “the roof of the world”. From west to east, the territory of China stretches from the Pamirs to the confluence of the Heilong and Wusuli rivers, covering a distance of 5,200 km. From north to south, the nation extends from the center of the Heilong River north of the town of Mohe to the Zengmu Reef at the southernmost tip of the Nansha Islands, covering a distance of 5,500 km. The Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China and South China seas constitute the vast sea area of China. A total of 5,400 islands dot China’s territorial waters. Their total area reaches 80,000 sq km. The largest of these islands, with an area of about 36,000 sq km, is Taiwan, followed by Hainan with an area of 34,000 sq km.
1.3 Social Economy
China’s economy maintains medium-to-high-speed growth, making China a leader among the major economies. Its GDP has risen from 54 trillion to 80 trillion yuan over the past five years, ranking No. 2 in the world. Its contribution to world economic growth exceeds 30%. Now we have shift from the phase of high speed growth to the phase of high quality development. At this critical period of shifting development mode, optimizing economic structure and changing motive force of growth, what is urgent and strategic to our development is to build a modern economic system.
2. Forest Resources
2.1 Overview of Forest Resources
According to the 8th National Forest Resources Inventory (2009-2013), the forest coverage rate in China is 21.63%, forest area 208 million hectares, forest stock volume 15.137 billion m³, and forest vegetation carbon storage 8.427 billion tons. China has 122 million hectares of natural forests with 12.296 billion m³of stock volume; and 69 million hectares of planted forests with 2.483 billion m³of stock volume. According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 released by FAO, China’s forest area and forest stock volume ranked No. 5 and No.6 respectively in the world, while its planted forests area ranked No.1. Compared with the 7th National Forest Resources Inventory (2004-2008), China witnessed 1.27% growth in forest coverage rate, gained 12.23 million hectares of forests, and embraced a net increase of 1.416 billion m³forest stock volume and 123 million tons of forest carbon storage (See Chart 1). And recent inventory shows that the forest resources in China have entered into a steady development period featuring growth in quantity and improvement in quality.
Chart 1 Area and stock volume of natural forests and planted forests
2.2 Structure of Forest Resources
Forest type, age class and tree species respectively reflect the utilization, age structure and types of forest resources and to some extend their quality, function and management.
Based on land ownership, forest land in China is divided into state-owned land and collective land, which are 73.77 million hectares and 117.4 million hectares respectively in terms of forest area, 9.354 billion m³and 5.425 billion m³respectively in terms of forest stock volume. The collective ownership plays a dominant role when it comes to the area of forest land and closed forest land (with 20% crown density or more), which accounts for 60.01% and 61.41% respectively; while state ownership is dominant when it comes to forest stock volume, which takes up 63.29% (Table 1).
Table 1 Major indicators of ownership of forest resources
2.2.2 Forest Type
According to the Forest Law of the People’s Republic of China, forests in China are divided into the following five categories: protection forests, timber stands, economic forests, firewood forests and forests for special use. On the premise of giving full play to the various functions of these forests, we further group protection forests and forests for special use as public welfare forests, while timber stands, economic forests, firewood forests as commercial forests, based on their main utilization.
In terms of forest area, protection forests cover 99.67 million hectares, forests for special use cover 16.31 million hectares, timber stands 67.24 million hectares, firewood forests 1.77 million hectares, and economic forests 20.56 million hectares (Chart 2). In terms of forest stock volume, the number and percentage of protection forests are 7.948 billion m³ and 53.78%, of forests for special use 2.17 billion m³and 14.68%, of timber stands 4.602 billion m³and 31.14%, of firewood forests 59 million m³and 0.40%. The ratio of area of public welfare forests and commercial forests is 56:44, and the ratio of stock volume is 68:32.
Chart 2 Proportion of the area of different types of forests
2.2.3 Age Classes
Based on the biological characteristics, growing process and forest management requirements of trees of different species at different ages, arbor forests are divided into young, mid-aged, near-mature, mature and over mature forests. The young forests cover 53.32 million hectares with 1.63 billion m³of stock volume; the mid-aged forests cover 53.11 million hectares with 4.106 billion m³of stock volume; the near-mature forests cover 25.83 million hectares with 3.034 billion m³of stock volume; the mature forests cover 21.76 million hectares with 3.564 billion m³of stock volume; and the over mature forests cover 10.58 million hectares with 2.445 billion m³of stock volume (Chart 3).
Chart 3 Forest area and stock volume of different age classes
2.2.4 Tree Species
China is rich in tree species. We have more than 8000 woody plants, taking up about 54% of the total in the world. Among all the tree species, arbor species exceeds 2000. According to the statistics of dominant tree species (group) of arbors, the top ten species in terms of forest area are quercus, birch, fir, larch, masson pine, populus, Yunnan Pine, eucalyptus, dragon spruce and cypress, adding up to 86.49 million hectares of area and accounting for 52.54% of the nation’s total. And their stock volume is 7.015 billion m³in total, accounting for 47% of that of the whole nation (Table 2).
Table 2Area and stock volume of dominant tree species (group) of arbor forests
2.3 Quality of Forest Resources
The important indicators to evaluate the quality of forest resources include stock volume per unit area, increment per unit area, number of trees per unit area, average DBH (diameter at breast height), average crown density, biocoenosis (or community), tree species, naturalness, disasters and health of arbor forests. As for the arbor forests in China, the stock volume per hectare area is 89.79 m³, the annual average increment per hectare area is 4.23 m³, the number of trees per hectare area is 953, the average DBH is 13.6 cm, and the average crown density is 0.57. Among all the arbor forests, 63% have a complete biocoenosis, 34% relatively complete and 3% simple; pure forests account for 61% and mixed forests 39%; natural and near-natural forests with small human impact account for 4%, while secondary forests or planted forests with bigger human impact account for 96%.
The damage to arbor forests, caused by disasters such as fire, diseases and insect pests, and climatic disasters (wind, snow, rainfall and drought), is leveled into light, moderate and severe. There are 28.76 million hectares of arbor forests affected, taking up 17% of all arbor forests. Among them, 11% are severely damaged, 23% moderately and 66% lightly. As for the disasters causing damage to arbor forests, 51% are climatic disasters, 37% diseases and insect pests, 9% fire, and 3% other disasters. Combining the growth and development of trees with damage of disasters, we could evaluate the health of arbor forests. 75% of them are in good health, while 18%, 5% and 2% are in sub-health, medium-health and ill health respectively (Chart 4).
Chart 4 Health conditions of forests
By considering the indicators reflecting the quality of forest resources and adopting Analytic Hierarchy Process and expert consultation method, we evaluate the quality of arbor forests nationwide. Arbor forests with high quality account for 19%, medium quality 68%, and low quality 13%. After comprehensive evaluation, the quality index of arbor forests is registered as 0.62, showing that the overall quality is at a medium level.
2.4 Ecological Functions of Forests
Forests have a stabilizing effect on ecological environment such as water and soil conservation, carbon sequestration and oxygen release, climate moderation, clean environment and biodiversity. Considering various factors such as overall forest quality, structure and degree of human impact, we level the ecological function of arbor forests as good, medium and bad. Among all the arbor forests, 13% play a good ecological role, while 79% medium and 8% bad. The average index of ecological function of arbor forests nationwide is 0.55, which means a medium level.
According to the 8th National Forest Resources Inventory and the ecological monitoring and assessment of forests, the total biomass of forest vegetation nationwide was 17.002 billion tons and total carbon reserve reached 8.427 billion tons. The annual volume of conserved water was 580.7 billion m³, conserved soil 8.191 billion tons, preserved soil fertility 430 million tons, absorbed pollutant 38 million tons and retained dust 5.845 billion tons.
3. Polices, Regulations and Planning of Forestry
3.1 Forestry Regulations
In China, we have formed a forestry legal system with the Forest Law of the People’s Republic of China and Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife as the main body, other laws, regulations and rules of forestry as the complement. The latter include the Seed Law of the People’s Republic of China, Law of the People’s Republic of China on Prevention and Control of Desertification, Regulations on the Implementation of the Forest Law of the People’s Republic of China, Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Forest Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Regulations on Returning the Grain Plots to Forestry, Regulations of Forest Fire Prevention, Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Protection of Wild Plants, Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Nature Reserves, and more than 50 supporting department rules as well as over 200 normative documents. All in all, they form China’s forestry legal system.
3.2 Forestry Policies
Forestry policies in China mainly include polices on classified forest operation, afforestation, forest protection, forest ownership registration system, wood harvesting and transport, protection of wildlife and prevention and control of desertification.
Since 1998, China has implemented some key forestry programs, such as the Natural Forest Protection Program; Program on Returning the Grain Plots to Forestry; Program of Managing Sandstorm Sources in Beijing and Tianjin; Key Programs of Shelter Forests in North, Northeast and Northwest China and the Lower-Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River; Construction Program of Wildlife Protection and Nature Reserves; and Construction Program of the Fast-Growing and High-Yield Timber Stands Bases in Key Areas.
Now China is pushing forward the reform of collective forest ownership system, state-owned forest zones and state-owned forest farms, aiming to further the reform of promoting ecological progress, increase farmers’ income, eradicate poverty and improve the system of protecting forests and ecology.
3.3 Forestry Planning
China has formulated and implemented a series of important planning of forestry development, such as the Forestry Development Plan during the 13th FYP Period, National Plan of Forest Operation for 2016-2050, Outline of the National Development Plan on Under-forest Economy of Collectively-owned Forests (2014-2020), National Plan of Pest Prevention and Control for 2011-2020 and other mid-and-long term forestry development plans to set a clear direction. China has also proposed to establish an institutional framework for forest management, enacted plans of national forest reserve, carried out the trial of establishing the National Park System and compiling the Natural Capital Balance.
3.4 Forest Protection
Nature reserves harbor the wildlife resources. They are the most efficient measure to protect the natural and ecological system, sustain biodiversity, and ensure the safety of our species.
At present, a network of nature reserves has been initially formed. It effectively protects 90% of the terrestrial ecosystems, 85% of the wild animal populations and 65% of higher plant populations. It covers 20% of primary forests, 50.3% of natural wetlands and 30% of typical desert areas. By the end of 2017, there have been 2249 nature reserves of forestry institutions, with 126 million hectares of protection area which accounts for 13.14% of China’s land (Chart 5).
Chart 5 Construction of nature reserves
4. Forest Management, Scientific Research and Education
4.1 Administrative Management System
The State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SFA) is a forest administration body directly under the State Council. It has 11 departments and affiliated agencies, namely the Office, Department of Policies, Laws and Regulations, Department of Afforestation and Greening (Office of the National Afforestation and Greening Committee), Department of Forest Resources Management (Office of National Timber Industry Management), Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management, Department of Rural Forestry Reform and Development, Forest Public Security Bureau (Office of National Forest Fire Prevention Headquarters), Department of Development Planning and Assets Management, Department of Science and Technology, Department of International Cooperation (Office of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs), and Department of Human Resources. There are also forestry administration bureaus at the provincial (or autonomous region and municipality) level and at city and county levels, in charge of their local forestry issues under the guidance of SFA.
4.2 Scientific Research
From 2011 to 2015, forestry in China has generated fruitful results, including 4768 items of scientific and technological achievements, 3659 pieces of authorized patent, 593 authorized new plant varieties, 909 national and industrial standards, 22 national science and technology rewards, over 500 improved varieties of forest trees promoted and over 1600 new tech items. The contribution of science and technology (S&T) to forestry reached 48% and the rate of commercializing scientific and technological achievements was 55%, demonstrating the remarkably enhanced supporting and leading role of S&T in forestry.
4.2.1 S&T Input
In 2016, S&T input from the central finance into forestry was 1.366 billion yuan, among which 490 million yuan was allocated to the special projects related to the national key R&D plans and to the research fund for public good industry. The 13th Five Year Plan on Scientific and Technological Innovation and the Scientific and Technological Innovation Plan on Major Forest Tree Breeding (2016-2025) were published to set the goal and direction for forestry S&T development and breeding innovation.
4.2.2 National Scientific Research Institutions
The establishment of scientific research institutes and their collaborating institutions in China is reasonable and they cooperate very well. All across China, there are 232 forestry scientific research institutes, 2296 forestry promotion agencies, 34 bureau-level key forestry labs, 23 forestry standardization committees, 179 positioning stations of terrestrial ecosystem and 26 national quality inspection centers of forestry products. Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) is a comprehensive, multi-discipline and public research institution that is directly subordinate to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). CAF is principally engaged in forest research of applied/basic sciences, strategic high tech researches, major nonprofit researches, technology development research and soft science studies. CAF consists of 19 research institutes and centers with independent legal entity, 13 institutes with non-independent legal entity, 20 co-established agencies, and over 60 institutions whose business is dependent on CAF. They are distributed in 24 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the country.
4.3 Forestry Education
There are several forestry institutions of higher learning in China. Nowadays, 92 higher education institutions and scientific research institutes provide postgraduate education of forestry, and 228 higher education institutions offer undergraduate education of forestry. They include universities and colleges like Beijing Forestry University and Northeast Forestry University, as well as scientific research institutes like CAF. There are also 230 forestry (landscape gardening) vocational schools of higher learning and 342 forestry (landscape gardening) secondary schools offering full-time higher and secondary education on forestry, such as Shanxi Forestry Vocational College, Liaoning Forestry Vocational College, Sanming Forestry Vocational College and Guizhou Provincial Forestry School. In 2016, a total of 7085 graduate students, 50100 undergraduate students and 91000 students from vocational schools of higher or secondary education majoring in forestry finished their studies.
In-service education and training are an important part of forestry education. SFA compiled the National Forestry Education and Training during the 13th FYP Period in 2016, and revised the Rules on the Implementation of the Education and Training of SFA Employees in 2017, to promote the information-based education and training, emphasize the in-service training of key personnel including the heads of local forestry bureaus, senior and intermediate forestry professionals at local levels, department heads and division heads of SFA and public servants.
5. Forestry Investment, Production and Trade
5.1 Forestry Investment
The fund for forestry in China mainly comes from: a) state budget, namely the fund allocated to forestry construction and protection from the central finance and local finance, which includes basic construction fund and the fund going to forestry from state revenues; b) domestic loans, namely the money borrowed from domestic banks and non-bank financial institutions to fund the construction and development of forestry; c) foreign investment, referring to the foreign funds received for forestry of that year, including foreign loans, foreign investment in the joint venture projects, free aid, and the bonds and stocks issued towards foreigners; d) self-raised funds, referring to the fund received by forestry construction institutions from their supervising departments, local agencies as well as and enterprises and public institutions, for forestry development; e) other funds, including individual fund, donation and crowd funding. The recent years witness increase of investment to forestry in China. At the meantime, with the deepening of the market-based reform of China’s forestry, the proportion of private investment also increased. In 2016, the forestry investment nationwide was 450.957 billion yuan. Looking into the fund sources (Chart 6), we found out that 215.173 billion yuan came from the state budget (106.108 billion from the central finance, taking up 23.53% of the total investment), 34.832 billion yuan from domestic loans, 1.65 billion yuan foreign investment, 154.141 billion yuan self-raised fund, and 45.161 billion other funds.
Forestry investment is mainly used in forestry construction and protection, forestry industrial development, establishment of forestry supporting and guarantee system, forestry livelihood projects, and so on. The fund to forestry ecological construction and protection is mainly used in afforestation, forest tending, sandy area treatment and enclosure, wildlife protection and the construction of nature reserves, wetland protection and restoration, compensation for ecological protection, and so on. The fund to the supporting and guarantee system is mainly used in tree seedling cultivation, forestry S&T education, information-based development of forestry, shantytown renovation, safe water diversion project, and the construction of infrastructure for public welfare in forestry zones. And the fund to forestry industrial development is mainly utilized in supporting the development of industrial raw materials, featured economic forests, woody grain and oil, flower planting, under-forest economy, forest product processing and forest health tourism.
5.2 Forestry Production and Trade
Motivated by forestry investment and various preferential policies, forestry in China experiences continuous growth. In 2016, the gross production value of China’s forestry reached 6.49 trillion yuan, contributing to an average annual growth rate of 20.04% since 2007(Chat 7).
Forestry and its related industries refer to the activities that rely on forest, wetland and sandy land resources, for the purpose of obtaining ecological, economic and social benefits, to provide the society (including providers themselves) with forestry, wetland and sandy land products and services; and the set of activities closely related to the above activities. They mainly include the cultivation and harvesting of forests; cultivation and harvesting of non-timber products; auxiliary service to forestry production; forest tourism and leisure service; ecological service; professional forestry technical service; public administration of forestry and other organization service; wood processing and wooden product manufacturing; processing and manufacturing of pulp and paper products with wood (bamboo and reed) as the raw material; processing and manufacturing of products with bamboo, rattan, palm and reed as the raw material; processing and manufacturing of wildlife products; processing and manufacturing of products with other non-timber forest products as the raw material; and other related activities.
From the perspective of industrial structure, forestry and its related industries could be divided into the first, second and tertiary industry. The first industry includes the cultivation and harvesting of forests; cultivation and harvesting of non-timber products and auxiliary service to forestry production. The second industry includes wood processing and wooden product manufacturing; processing and manufacturing of pulp and paper products with wood (bamboo and reed) as the raw material; processing and manufacturing of products with bamboo, rattan, palm and reed as the raw material; processing and manufacturing of wildlife products; processing and manufacturing of products with other non-timber forest products as the raw material; and other forestry related activities. The tertiary industry includes forest tourism and leisure service; ecological service; professional forestry technical service; public administration of forestry and other organization service.
In 2016, the first industry of forestry in China generated 2161.944 billion yuan, taking up 33.32% of the total production value; the secondary industry generated 3208.067 billion yuan, taking up 49.44% of the total; and the tertiary industry generated 1118.594 billion yuan, taking up 17.24%.
From the perspective of import and export, the total volume of import and export of forestry products in 2016 was USD 135.103 billion, among which the export trade volume was USD 72.677 billion and import trade volume USD 62.426 billion. The trade surplus of forest products was USD 10.251 billion. Among all the forest products imported and exported, wooden products constitute the overwhelming majority.
From the perspective of major trading partners, China’s forestry products are mainly traded to Asian, North American and European markets. The top 5 export trading partners are the US, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Vietnam and the UK; and the top 5 import trading partners are the US, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia and Canada (Chart 8).
From the perspective of product structure, among all the export trade volume of wooden forest products in 2016, nearly 75% came from wooden furniture, paper and pulp products (Chart 9). As for the import trade volume, nearly 90% came from paper and pulp, log, and sawn timber (Chart10).