BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- China's forest coverage reached 20.36 percent by the end of last year, two years ahead of schedule in its goal to lift forest coverage to 20 percent by 2010, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) announced Tuesday.
China's forested area reached 195 million hectares by the end of last year, SFA head Jia Zhibang told a press conference in Beijing.
He said the figure was up 2.15 percentage points, or 20.54 million hectares from the end of 2003, when it was about 175 million hectares.
In China, forest refers to woods covering an area more than 1 mu (0.667 hectares) with crown density -- the measure of skylight blocked by plant material -- at or above 20 percent, according to the SFA.
Man-made forest saw a net increase to 8.43 million hectares from 2004 to 2008 to cover an area of 62 million hectares, more than in any other country in the world, according to a survey released at the conference.
President Hu Jintao pledged at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in September 2007 that the country's forest coverage would reach 20 percent by the end of 2010.
However, China still faced major problems on forest protection and management, such as increased occupation and requisition of forestland, and illegal deforestation, Jia said.
During the five years, 8.32 million hectares of forest was occupied, requisitioned and converted to non-forest uses, according to the survey.
The government would step up afforestation and protection of forest to meet Hu's commitment in September this year to combat climate change, he said.
China would endeavor to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares by 2020 as a way to offset greenhouse gas emissions, Hu said at the United Nations climate change summit.
"This commitment shows China is highly responsible in further combating climate change," said Zhang Jianlong, vice head of SFA. "It is by no means an easy goal to achieve for China because of the increasing cost for afforestation and the mounting difficulties for cultivating trees on poor soil in some areas.
"We need more resources and support from the whole country," he said.
The government would put more focus on afforestation, reafforestation, and intensify forest conservation while at same time cracking down on illegal deforestation, he said.
The survey, conducted between 2004 and 2008, was the SFA's seventh on China's forestry resources and involved more than 20,000 scientists and forestry workers.