BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhua) -- China's forest coverage has risen constantly
for almost two decades, increasing the nation's contribution to the world's
carbon dioxide absorption, Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the State Forestry
Administration (SFA), said on Tuesday.
The world's forested area decreased by about 0.2 percent annually or 9.39
million hectares between 1990 and 2000, said Zhu, citing statistics from the
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
However, forests in China had been growing by 1.2 percent or 1.81 million
hectares every year in the same period, the highest growth rate in the world,
said Zhu at a press conference.
The expanding forests had enabled the country to absorb more carbon dioxide
Chinese experts estimated carbon dioxide absorbed by China's forests had
risen from 470 million tons in 1990 to more than 500 million tons currently.
China led the world in forestation with 54 million hectares of cultivated
forest, said SFA chief Jia Zhibang at the press conference.
Since the drive for voluntary tree-planting and forestation 26 years ago,
the Chinese people had planted 49.2 billion trees, he added.
The country's forest coverage was 18.21 percent or 175 million hectares,
and its commodity timber coverage stood at 13.6 billion cubic meters, which
would grow by 500 million cubic meters annually, Jia said.
Research showed every new cubic meter of forest absorbed 1.83 tons of
carbon dioxide and emitted 1.62 tons of oxygen on average.
Jia said the government would continue to fight global warming by reducing
greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial sector and stepping up forestation to
absorb more carbon dioxide in the future.
The country would endeavor to double the annual growth of forests in 30 to
50 years to 1 billion cubic meters, Jia said.
He also pledged to better protect the country's forests, wetlands and
woodlands, which could help absorb carbon dioxide as well.
He said 22 million hectares of land vulnerable to desertification would be
brought under control, and half of the country's wetlands, about 18 million
hectares, would be properly preserved by 2010.