China will plant 36,000 square kilometres of new forest a year until 2025 as a measure to combat climate change and better protect natural habitats, a senior forestry official says.
- China aims to plant trees across an area larger than Belgium each year to increase its forests
- The mass planting is part of the country’s strategy to bring carbon emissions to net zero by 2060
- By the end of 2025, 24.1 per cent of China’s land will be covered by forest, according to officials
Tree planting has been at the heart of China’s environmental efforts for decades and is a major part of plans to bring carbon emissions down to net zero by 2060.
The total area pledged to have trees planted each year is greater than the size of Belgium and is being described as “land greening” by Li Chunliang, vice-chairman of the State Forestry and Grasslands Commission.
“By 2035, the quality and stability of national forest, grassland, wetland and desert ecosystems will have been comprehensively upgraded,” Mr Li said.
China aims to raise its overall forest coverage rate from 23.04 to 24.1 per cent by the end of 2025, according to its forest and grassland five-year plan published this week.
The plan warned that China’s forest and grass resources were inadequate, especially in drought-prone regions in the north and west.
Mr Li did not say what type of trees would be planted but the document said the strategy would rely in part on “natural reforestation”, implying different types of trees would be planted according to the local environment.
Following the destruction of major ecosystems during decades of rapid economic growth, China has promised to create “ecological security barriers” and protect as much as a quarter of its total territory from human encroachment.
Over the next five years, China will also expand its national park system, create corridors to alleviate habitat fragmentation, and will crack down further on illegal wildlife trade, according to Chen Jiawen from the Chiense State Forestry Administration, who was lead author of the five-year plan.