Nation planted 6.77 million hectares of trees last year, green report says
China planted 6.77 million hectares of forest last year and brought more than 2 million hectares of sandy land under control through improving vegetation, said a report unveiled on Friday, the country's 43rd Tree Planting Day.
The National Greening Commission released the report, which showed that 827,000 hectares of farmland and more than 1.68 million hectares of pastures had been turned into forest or grassland over the past year.
Currently, the per capita green area in urban China is 14.8 square meters, and 441 cities have joined the campaign to build national forest cities.
Moreover, the country initiated its first pilot program to construct grassland nature parks last year, with 39 pilots launched covering a total of 147,000 hectares of grassland in 11 provinces and autonomous regions.
Those greening efforts have not only improved the country's environment, but also benefited its people, said the report.
Last year, the total output value of the forestry industry hit 7.55 trillion yuan ($1.16 trillion) while the country's import and export trade volume of forest products totaled more than $160 billion.
The report also showed that more than 3 million people had been lifted out of poverty thanks to the green industry. Of them, about 1.1 million people are currently employed as environment conservationists and their living conditions have largely improved.
Afforestation is also part of the country's efforts to meet its upgraded international commitments to mitigate climate change.
According to the report, forest carbon storage in China was about 9.18 billion metric tons last year, which achieved the country's commitment to the international community.
China currently has 220 million hectares of forest with total forest stock volume of 17.5 billion cubic meters, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
Forest stock volume－the total volume of the stems of all living trees－is often used for forest resource management and planning and as a predictor of carbon-related variables and carbon stocks, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Every additional 100 million cubic meters of forest stock volume can absorb 183 million tons of carbon dioxide.
"China has made resolute efforts to increase its forest carbon storage," said Peng Youdong, deputy head of the administration.
Moreover, he said, 60 percent of China's forests are either newly planted trees or trees that are at their best age to grow, which carries more potential to absorb carbon dioxide.
On Friday, an accounting report on China's forest resources was also released, which showed that the total value of forest related resources in the country was more than 25 trillion yuan, and related services were valued at least 15 trillion yuan.
China has initiated a program to study forest resources accounting since 2014 with experts from several government departments and research centers.
Forest resources accounting is an attempt to measure sustainable development by correcting the national income accounts for the depletion of natural capital.
"It is still a new attempt worldwide to account for forest resources with economic theories," said Jiang Zehui, chief scientist at Chinese Academy of Forestry who leads the program.
Li Xiaochao, deputy director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said the accounting will help to evaluate the country's forest resources and its potential to develop other green industries.