Report On the State of the Environment In China
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General Situation

According to the 6th National Survey on Forest Resources, the forest area in China reached 174.91 million hectares with the coverage of 18.21%. The volume of live standing timber reserve and forest reserve reached 13.618 billion m3 and 12.456 billion m3 respectively. China's forest area accounted for 4.5% of the world's total, ranking the 5th and forest reserve took up 3.2% of world’s total, ranking the 6th in the world. Great changes have taken place in China's forest resources with increasing forest area and reserves and improved structure and quality. Both forest area and forest reserves ranked the top position in the world. But the forest coverage only ranked the 130th, per capita forest area ranked the 134th and per capita forest reserves the 122nd in the world. The geographical distribution of China's forest resources was rather uneven with only 5.86% of forest coverage in the five northwest provinces (autonomous regions) that accounted for 32.19% of the national territory. 

Plant Diseases and Insect Pests: In 2004, a total of 9.46 million hectares of forests were subject to plant diseases and insect pests. Among them, 5.96 million ha had been treated with control means, accounting for 63% of the total. There was an increased of 830,000 ha of forests subject to plant diseases and insect pests compared with that of 2003. 

Fire Disasters: In 2004, there were 13,466 forest fires, up by 28.7% against the previous year. Among them, there were 6,894 fire alarms, up by 23.5%; 6,531 general fire disasters, an increase of 34.4%; 38 major fire disasters, up by 171.4%; and 3 very big fire disasters, down by 57.1% as compared with that of 2003. In the order of 344,211 ha forests were subject to fire in 2004, a reduction of 69.4%. The area of damaged forest covered 142,238 hectares, down by 68.5% as against that of 2003. The total investment in forest fire-fighting in 2004 was RMB132.785 million yuan, a decline of 37.2% compared with that of the previous year. 

Countermeasures and Actions

【Construction Progress of the Six Ecological Projects】 In 2004 , altogether 4.8029 million hectares forest were planted (artificial and aerial sowing) in the six key forest projects, accounting for 85.8% of the total afforestation area in China. Among them, the forest area planted in the Natural Forest Resource Protection Program, the Program of Converting Farmland Back to Forest (excluding forests converting from farmland that is the sources of sand and dust storm covering Beijing and Tianjin), the Program of Controlling the Sand Sources of Beijing and Tianjin, the Three North and the Yangtze River Basin Shelter Forest Construction Programs and Fast-growing Timber Forest Base Program in key regions was 641,400 ha, 3.2142 million ha, 473,300 ha, 451,700 ha and 22,300 ha respectively, accounting for 13.4%, 66.9%, 9.9%, 9.4% and 0.5% of the six key forest projects respectively. By the end of 2004, 9.7289 million ha of mountains (desserts) had been closed for forest cultivation with 963,900 hectares were mountain areas with few trees or no trees in the past. 

1. The Natural Forest Resource Protection Program 

In 2004, the output of timber in the project areas totaled 12.505 million m3, accounting for 24.1% of China's total, an increase by 3.2704 million m3 compared with that of 2003 

The completed public forest covered an area of 641,400 hectares including 177,900 ha of artificial forestation and 463,500 hectares of aerial sowing. The proportion of shelter forests reached 95.8%. By the end of 2004, there had been 5.2181 million ha of mountains (desert) were closed for forest cultivation with newly closed area being 567,900 ha. Among them, newly closed non-forest land and open forest land area took up 73.5% of the total. A total of 87.8341 million ha forests were protected and managed, same as that of 2003. Among them, 15.5% was contracted by individuals for management and protection. The accumulated afforestation area had been 4.3281 million ha since 1998 when the program was initiated. 

2. The Program of Converting Farmland Back to Forest (Grain for Green)

The total afforested area in 2004 was 3.5648 million ha (including 350,600 ha of the Program of Control the Sand Sources of Beijing and Tianjin), of which 1.0165 million ha were converted from farmland and 2.5483 ha were planted in barren mountains and waste land. Among the restored forest area, ecological forests accounted for 80.8%, 40.1% of them were slope farmland with an angle of over 25°. In 2004, 123,300 ha of land were planted with grass. 

In 2004, 15.905 million tons of grain was subsidized and RMB7.125 billion yuan was paid to farmers who were subject to "Grain for Green". In the order of 23.574 billion yuan RMB was invested for the "Grain for Green" program. Among them, 16.656 billion yuan RMB was appropriated by the Central Government, accounting for 70.7% of the total. Among the total investment in forestry, grain equivalent was RMB17.355 billion yuan, seed planting fee RMB2.981 billion yuan and grain transportation fee RMB276 million yuan. 

Since 1999 when the "Grain for Green" program started on a trial basis, a total 16.8907 million ha land have been afforested, 48.0422 million tons of grain has been subsidized and RMB17.651 billion yuan of allowance has been paid to farmers. 

3. The Program of Controlling the Sand Sources of Beijing and Tianjin 

In 2004, a total of 473,300 ha land were afforested in 75 counties within the project region with 191,700 ha forest having been converted from farmland. By the end of 2004, 1.2011 million ha of mountains (desert) had been closed for forest cultivation. Among them, 237,700 ha were newly closed area in non-forest land and open forest land, 238,500 hectares of grassland and 62,300 hectares of small river basin areas. As a result, 1.0117 million hectares of land were treated with control and prevention measures. 

The accumulated afforestation area was 2.1914 million ha since the program started five years ago and the total control area reached 4.3985 million ha. 

4. The Three North Shelter and the Yangtze River Basin Shelter Forest Programs

In 2004, 451,700 hectares of land were afforested in the project including 10,000 ha forested by aerial sowing and 441,700 ha by artificial planting. The afforested area accounted for 97.8% of the total forest areas. 235,700 ha forests were planted in the fourth phase of the Three North Shelter Program and 113,300 ha were completed in the second phase of the Yangtze River Basin Shelter Program. In the second phase of Coastal Shelter Forest Program, 30,200 ha of land were planted and in the second phase of the Pearl River Basin Shelter Forest Program, 31,800 ha of land were planted. 30,900 ha of land were afforested in the second phase of Taihang Mountain Greening Program and 9,800 ha of land afforested in the second phase of Plain Greening Program. The newly closed mountain (desert) areas for forest cultivation in non-forest land and open forest land added up to 254,100 hectares. And 29,600 ha of shelter forest with low yield and efficiency were improved. 

5. The Program of Developing Wildlife Protection Zones and Nature Reserves 

In 2004, 1,672 nature reserves had been established and managed by the forestry sector with a total area of 119 million ha, covering 12.4% of the land territory of mainland China. Among them 164 were national nature reserves, occupying an area of 71 million hectares. 

6. The Fast-Growing Timber Forest Base Development Program in Key Regions

In 2004, 56,800 ha of fast-growing timber forest were planted including 22,300 ha on waste mountains and wasteland and 4,800 ha of low quality forest under improvement. Farmers, foreign investors and some leading enterprises became the major investors of the development projects of fast-growing timber forests. Forests invested by these investors accounted for 67.8% of the total. Among the afforested and improve forests, tree types could be divided according to the aim of application. The proportion of tress used as raw materials for pulp, artificial board, timber with big diameters and timber used as raw materials for other industrial purposes were 25.4%, 31.8%, 10.1% and 32.7% respectively. Poplar, paulownia (tung tree), eucalyptus, acacia, fir and pine tress (in the south) were still the priority options for fast-growing timber forests. 

【Related Policies on Protecting Natural Forest Resources】 In May 2004, the Ministry of Finance, State Administration of Taxation and State Environmental Protection Administration issued the Circular on Taxation Policies for Enterprises and Institutions Implementing Natural Forest Protection Program. In September 2004, State Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Finance and China Banking Regulatory Commission jointly released the Circular on the Issues Concerning Proper Handling of Debts of Industrial Enterprises and Financial Institutions in the Natural Forest Protection Program Area. In October 2004, the Ministry of Finance issued the Circular on Providing Policy Support to Part of the Liabilities of Natural Forest Protection Program funded by the World Bank, exempting the program implementation enterprises from part of their debts. In 2004, State Forestry Administration issued the Measures on the Management and Protection of the Forests of the Natural Forest Resources Protection Program

【Creating Garden Cities】 By 2004, 56 cities (districts) were awarded the title of "Garden Cities (districts)" across China.

【China Human Settlement and Environment Award】 By the year 2004, 11 cities had won "China Human Settlement and Environment Award" established by the Ministry of Construction. These cities included Shenzhen, Dalian, Hangzhou, Nanning, Shihezi, Qingdao, Xiamen, Sanya, Haikou, Yantai and Yangzhou. A total of 118 cities or projects were awarded "China Human Settlement and Environment Model Award".

Fresh Water Environment

Marine Environment

Atmospheric Environment


Solid Wastes


Arable Land / Land Resources




Climate and Natural Disasters

Environmental Management