The Chinese government has been working for a long time to work on the environmental issues and over the last two decades, China has used 69.2 million acres of abandoned farmland to plant trees. There have been 33.8 million hectares planted just in the last five years and these total investments have racked up a bill of $82.88 billion.
Zhang Jianlong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration, has introduced “ecological red line” policies and as a part of these policies, China is planning to plane 6.66 million new hectares of forest this year. This is roughly the size of Ireland. Zhan said, “Companies, organizations, and talent that specialize in greening work are all welcome to join in the country’s massive greening campaign. Cooperation between government and social capital will be put on the priority list.”
These plans would mean increasing the total coverage of forests from 21.7 percent to 23 percent over the next couple of years. This new forest will be located in the northeast Hebei province, the Qinghai province in the Tibetan Plateau and in Inner Mongolia toward the Hunshandake Desert.
The new policies also require local governments to cut down on the irrational development near forested areas and other rivers and national parks. Despite these commendable efforts, China is still having trouble restoring biodiversity back to the area and that is due to the fact that it is planning monocultures instead of forests, as suggested by a study in 2016.
David Wilcove served as a Princeton University ecologist and evolutionary biologist. He said that ignoring the fact that China is having these issues, it is serving as an excellent example for other countries around the world. Especially the ones suffering from deforestation and they would do well to take a page out of China’s books.
“I think we are going to see bona fide land abandonment, and that’s going to create opportunities around the world for reforestation,” Wilcove noted in a 2016 interview. “The critical policy question is how to restore forests that provide multiple benefits to society, including preventing soil erosion, providing timber, and sustaining wildlife.”
It is refreshing to see that the awareness of protecting the environment is increasing day by day.