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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:59, August 18, 2006
China does not menace global forest resources at all
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"China will deplete all the world's forest resources by 2031, when one of every two logs from tropical rain forests for export will be shipped to the country." In response to such thrilling hearsays spread by Western media recently, a Chinese State Forestry Administration spokesman cited these remarks as simply "groundless" without "any scientific basis".

Lester R. Brown, president and chair of the World Watch Institute in the United States, issued a 100-page report titled "who will feed China -- a Wake-up Call for a small planet", provoking the "Brown Wave" concerning China's food menace theory 12 years ago. Twelve years later, he again made a prediction on the impact of the country's economic growth on the global resources and environment In 12 years, specifically by 2031, China's per capita income will reach the level of the United States today�� and if "rain consumption needed to sustain a U.S.-style diet rich in meat, milk and egg," "China would consume 1,352 million tons of grain, far above the 382 million tons used in 2004. This is equal to two thirds of the entire 2004 world grain harvest of just over 2 billion tons."

Brown did not intend to see China follow the US mode in its economic development, but Western media quoted him out of contest, saying that its paper consumption then will be twice as much the whole world's present consumption and so paper making industry in China will deplete the forest resources around the globe.

Meanwhile, some non-government organizations (NGO) also refer to China as "imperiling the global forest resources."

"Global Witness", a NGO based in London, said most of the "timber imported into China, now the largest consumer of logs from tropical developing countries, now converted into furniture, plywood and other processed products for export to the United States and Europe", and the country imported 350 million US dollars worth of timber from Myanmar in 2005 alone.

The Environment Investigation Agency, a NGO in the U.S., has gone to the extreme with his censures, as its chairman Allan Thornton said China has, by importing timber from Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, has deprived these countries of their futures.

Reuter and other Western media agencies also report on China's possible menace on the world's forest resources with its drastic rise in timber demand.

Moreover, a Russian media report said China intents to lease one million hectares of forests in Siberia, but the rumor has been clarified officially and denied by the relevant Chinese authority.

On August 15, Cai Qingrao, a Chinese State Forestry Administration spokesman, made responses to all these allegations, saying that China has not depleted its own forest resources and the country's forest resources are still being renewed and developed.

China's forest coverage rated has risen from the past 8.6 percent to 18.21 percent at present and up to over 23 percent by 2020, he said. Though China imported some logs, it also exported timber products in large quantities, and export volume overtook import volume in 2005 total trade quotas. From a long term point of view, China is fully capable of coping with its own forest resources issue.

In refuting China's illegal importation of logs, Cao said his country has enacted very rigid regulations on log import and has been bent on improving relevant laws and codes, while setting up coordination mechanism with its neighboring countries to deal with illegal timber trade.

With repeated media reports on wild logging spread, the people's awareness of timber resources crisis has been on steady rise in recent years. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the global log storage volume stood at 337 billion cubic meters in 1990 and rose to 386 billion cubic meters with an average annual increase of more than 900 million cubic meters.

Russia's forest acreage amounted to some 800 million hectares, or 20 percent of the world's total. With a storage volume of over 82 billion cubic meters, its potential use volume can reach as high as more than 550 million cubic meters, whereas the country logged only 130 million cubic meters.

Therefore, the fallacy on China's depletion of the global forest resources is nothing but an exaggeration. Some of the Western media reports have ill intentions and some are exaggerated, while some others are out of good intentions, experts have acknowledged. As a very responsible nation, China is clearly aware and duty bound to protect natural resources, and pays increasingly greater attention to log import and export management, so as to lessen the effect on the primitive forest resources around the world.

By People's Daily Online

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