Ban on Logging Saves ForestsChina has stopped commercial logging of its natural forest in 13 provinces and autonomous regions, upstream from the Yangtze River and along areas on the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River.
Following such a massive logging ban, a strategy was launched after the devastating 1998 summer floods on the Yangtze to rehabilitate the worsening eco-environment, and forest authorities have stepped up efforts to recover and increase forest resources there, a leading forest official announced on Wednesday.
Lei Jiafu, vice-director of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), said in his latest report, released on Wednesday, that during the 1998-2000 period, China completed afforestation in more than 1.1 million hectares of land using human labour and afforested more than 453,300 hectares of woods in mountainous areas using aerial seeding.
So far, the logging ban has helped China bring more than 92 million hectares of forests under protection, including the closing of 5.1 million hectares of hillsides to livestock grazing and gathering fuel in the wastelands and barren hills of the western region.
The State has earmarked a record 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion), including more than 6.1 billion yuan (US$737 million) for the logging ban and massive afforestation efforts. The funds have also been used to help resettle 502,000 loggers forced to put down their axes as China strives to protect forest resources.
Instead of logging trees, which had been the traditional work of the State-owned forest farms, workers engaged in the management and protection of forests have increased from 55,000 before 1998 to the present 147,000 in the State's key forest zones.
China's 135 State-run forest farms employ 1 million workers. The workers who used to earn their living by logging have shifted into large-scale tree-planting and other businesses on the reforested land.
Over the past three years, China has also reduced logging on reforested land along the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers, which suffer from worsening soil erosion caused largely by excessive logging during past decades.
Forestry authorities in Northeast China and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, two of the State's key timber production centres, have already slashed their annual logging quotas by 67 per cent.
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