Tree growth has potential
Updated: 2011-06-13 08:54
By Hu Angang (China Daily)
A long-term strategy for forest development should be an important part of China's bid to promote a green economy
In a move to raise public awareness, strengthen forest management and conservation, as well as promote afforestation, the United Nations declared 2011 as the "International Year of Forests".
Undoubtedly, increased worldwide efforts to protect forests and promote a green economy will offer China's forest industry rare opportunities for further development.
In its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for national economic and social development, China put particular emphasis on promoting scientific development and the transformation of its economic development model. As the first-ever national document to orientate China toward sustainable development and combat environmental degradation and the effects of climate change, the five-year plan shows the importance China has attached to the construction and development of the conservation of resources and an environmentally friendly society.
To fulfill its international commitments in dealing with climate change, the 12th Five-Year Plan commits China to raising its forest coverage ratio to 21.66 percent by the end of 2015 and increasing its forest stock volumes - an important index to reflect a country's forest quality and measure its forest ecology and forest carbon-sink capability - by 600 million cubic meters by that time. This crucial period in China's economic transformation provides a rare opportunity for the country to expand its forest development area and improve its forest carbon-sink capacity.
To promote a green economy, China should lay down a long-term comprehensive forest development strategy in which "green development" and "green innovation" should be regarded as an important part of the country's forest economy.
To this end, China should maintain the development momentum of the current forest industry and, based on its rich forest resources, step up development of such green industries as biomedicine and forest-related tourism, in a bid to form a larger-scale green-industry belt.
In the context of the global financial crisis and the country's arduous efforts to boost domestic demand, China should also try to tap the potential of the forest sector and increase its contribution to employment.
Some effective measures should be taken to increase the country's carbon-sink capability as a way to help the country fulfill its commitments to the international community in dealing with climate change. An improved forest carbon sink will raise China's say on the international economic stage and help raise the country's role in the world's fourth industrial revolution that will be based on green development.
Concrete measures should also be taken to further develop China's biomass energy. It should try to increase the planting area of energy-convertible forests as a way to ease its growing energy shortage and improve farmers' incomes. The transformation of the country's forest development should be based on long-term State-level efforts as well as measures from the forestry authorities.
To facilitate this process, China should increase its investment into its green industries, a field that is expected to result in huge economic, social and ecological effects and a high return ratio. China should keep unchanged its established principle of fiscal input into public ecological products, which, together with other investment channels, will help expand domestic demand and increase employment. At the same time, it should make forest investment a long-term and institutionalized national policy and encourage more non-government funds to invest in forests.
Measures should be taken to promote green innovation, such as innovation in forest-related biotechnology, information technology and energy technology, in a bid to spearhead China's green development via technological innovation.
Besides, the country should continue to push forward comprehensive reforms of its forest ownership in an effort to provide a systematic guarantee and an internal incentive mechanism for the protection of its modern forestry development. That will not only increase farmers' incomes, and absorb redundant rural labor resources, it will also help expand domestic demand, promote harmony and stability in rural areas and expedite forest construction.
In addition, China should try to promote cooperation and exchanges with other countries, foreign governmental and non-governmental organizations, to learn from their advanced technologies and management expertise. In so doing, the country can absorb more foreign capital into its forest sector and help other countries learn about its remarkable achievements in this field, a move that will help create a good international environment for China's forest development and raise its international image.
The author is director of the Research Center for Contemporary China at Tsinghua University.
(China Daily 06/13/2011 page8)
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