China will promote the reform of its collectively-owned forestry system this year to facilitate the development of forestry and provide more benefits for farmers, Jia Zhibang, director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said here Friday.
Jia made the remarks while addressing a national meeting on the reform of the collectively-owned forestry system held in central China's Jiangxi Province, noting that nationwide reform is necessary for the sound development of collectively-owned forestry. Reforms will probably end in 2010.
The reform aims to transfer more operational rights from local governments and local forestry administrations to farmers, Jia said.
After the reform, farmers will become forestry operators, signing long-term operating contracts with the government. Meanwhile, ownership of the forests will remain with the government.
Jia said that the operation rights will make farmers more involved in the planting and maintaining of trees and they will be able to pocket more money.
The trial reforms conducted in southeastern Fujian and central Jiangxi provinces in recent years have spurred farmers' commitment to forestry operations and enhanced their income.
Statistics show that the yearly plantation area of trees doubled in Fujian in 2005 after the reform. Similarly, farmers' forestry income in Jiangxi increased by 41 percent year-on-year in 2005.
Looking at the different situations in different provinces, Jia said that local characteristics and farmers' advice would be taken into consideration in the reform and the various solutions proposed.
Up to now, the administration has conducted trial reforms in Fujian, Jiangxi and Liaoning provinces, covering about 15 million hectares of forestry.
A considerable number of China's farmers live in mountainous areas and depend on forestry for their lives. Many of them are amongst the poorest people in China.
Insiders say that the reform will greatly benefit these people and help to lift them out of poverty, contributing to the country's poverty-lifting project.