The Integration of Forestry Productive Forces: Opportunities and Challenges
The Integration of Forestry Productive Forces: Opportunities and Challenges
Productive forces are the most dynamic factors in human society and constitute the fundamental driving force in pushing development forward. So it is with forestry. Only an aggressive development of the productive forces of forestry can lead to the intensive development of the industry. It is, therefore, a fundamental task to facilitate a robust development of the productive forces of forestry.
The basic feature of forestry production remains the fact that the production sector depends largely on natural forces. Land is the most important element of production in forestry, and the quality of the standing forests is a notable symbol of forestry productive forces. With the continued deepening of understanding on the role and significance of forestry by society, there is a greater demand from the forestry productive forces. The overall interests of the State and the nation place much importance not only on the per-unit productive forces of forestland, but also on the forests as a whole, the distribution of these forests, the rational combination of their multiple functions, and their benefits. Thus, the priority task in developing the productivity of forestry in modern society is to realize their rational distribution in a sustained manner so as to generate multiple benefits, especially ecological benefits.
Owing to China's forestry conditions, forestry development through programs has been successful in stimulating the productive forces of forestland and accelerating their development. Since the reform and opening up of the country, a series of key programs has been successively started, which has played a significant role in promoting forestry development. In the light of the requirements for ecological and environmental development by the State in the new century and its existing problems, it is imperative to systematically integrate the key forestry programs. Through the integration of these programs, emphasis will be placed on the most important areas in forestry development such that ecology can occupy a priority position, with its protection as the main focus. In this way, consideration will be given to local conditions, the building of defenses against dangers, and the status and features of forestry development in the new era. Through integration there will be a concentration of efforts on key programs which will bring about real results. This will ultimately facilitate progress, based on past results, and shape a new blueprint for the development of productive forces in the forestry sector.
All the mountains are green and all the waters clear. Flowers blossom in all the seasons and birds sing everywhere. The foresters, also artists, have made the mountains and rivers a land of splendor and the national territory a painting.
Jiang Zemin's call to “rebuild a northwestern region with beautiful mountains and rivers” is a concentrated expression of the important theory of the “Three Representations,” which are crucial for pushing forward socialist modernization, realizing sustained economic and social development, developing an advanced culture of harmonious coexistence of man and nature, and preserving the fundamental interests of the people. A coordinated development of the ecology and the economy is the important long-term goal and a necessary requirement for the advancement of productive forces. The harmonious coexistence of man and nature is an important component of an advanced culture where beautiful mountains and rivers and good ecology form the basis of life for the people.
Thus, it is an important task of the socialist modernization program to rebuild the mountains and rivers to their natural beauty. There can only be modernization with beautiful mountains and rivers, not with barren mountains and unhealthy rivers. The modernization process in any country, without exception, must be accompanied by ecological development. Very often, economically developed countries are also those with good ecology. The preservation of the ecology has become one of the greatest differences between China and the developed countries. The deteriorating state of the ecology in China is one of the most critical factors restraining the modernization process. From a theoretical perspective, the coordinated development of the ecology and the economy is essential for modernization and economic and social development. One of the objectives of modernization is, therefore, the integration of economic growth and the preservation of the ecology. China aims to achieve socialist modernization in the mid-21st century, rebuild its beautiful mountains and rivers, facilitate the harmonious coexistence of man and nature, and make it possible for people to work and live in a good environment. In reality, the long-term damage of the natural ecology in the past seriously restrained the economic development of many regions, and some areas have been particularly hampered by poor ecological conditions. Strategically, for China, the improvement of the ecological environment is not less important than economic development. Sacrificing the ecology in return for economic growth does not create wealth, but invites disaster which can be more damaging than war. If attention is not given to ecological development and it is damaged, even though economic strength grows, living space for the people will shrink, and this cannot be called modernization. In light of the harsh reality of a worsening ecology in the country, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council have approved the National Plan for Ecological Environment Construction and made rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers an important task in the country's modernization drive in the 21st century. In the next fifty years, China hopes to realize not only the goal of economic development equal to the level of the medium developed countries, but also that of rebuilding the beautiful mountains and rivers in the country. Rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers has become a historic mission in the modernization drive.
Rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers serves as the basis for realizing sustainable economic development. Forests are the main component of the ecosystem, representing the beautiful mountains and rivers. A vibrant ecology preserved by forests is necessary for the survival of mankind. In the past, damage to forests led to a series of grave ecological problems such as desertification, soil erosion, drought and shortage of water, sharp reduction of biodiversity, and aggravation of greenhouse effects. These problems have turned global and pose a strategic threat to the survival of mankind. The ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, and Yellow River civilizations all faded with the disappearance of forests. The decline of forests led to the loss of basic living conditions for human survival in some areas, the shifting of civilizations, the decline of regimes and great numbers of ecological refugees, and even deaths. Experience has shown that the loss of forests will undermine the basis for human survival, and the future of the people.
Forests are basic resources for economic development. Timber is one of the recognized traditional materials. In addition to timber, forests also provide society with various other products. With the steep reduction of forests in the world, they have become irreplaceable and indispensable strategic resources of a country. Luxuriant forests play an important role in guaranteeing the stable and sustained development of agriculture. The biodiversity of forests contributes to the future wealth of mankind as it provides indispensable biological resources, conserves important genes for the improvement of economic species, and serves as raw material for future biological commodity production and the development of an ecological industry. It is difficult to imagine how a country without a successful forestry industry can achieve sustainable development. Developing forest resources and rebuilding the beautiful mountains and rivers have thus become crucial factors for realizing sustainable economic and social development in China.
Rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers is therefore an important component in the drive for an advanced culture where there is harmonious coexistence of man and nature. The history of the development of mankind is also that of the relationship between man and nature. Changes to forests reflect to a certain extent the process of evolution and the development of mankind. Respecting and protecting nature will result in excellent living conditions whereas violating and damaging nature will cause mankind to suffer endless disasters. Entering the 21st century, mankind has gradually awakened to the repercussions of the long-term exploitation of nature. As a result of the move to preserve nature, a new concept is being shaped so that mankind, after the agricultural and industrial civilizations, will enter a new stage of ecological civilization. The harmonious coexistence between man and nature is the main feature of this ecological civilization. It is at the same time an important component of modern civilization and an advanced culture. The Chinese nation has gone through 5,000 years of history and created an ancient and dynamic civilization. Whether this will prolong for another 5,000 years, generation after generation, hinges fundamentally on the rebuilding of beautiful mountains and rivers, and sustaining the basic conditions for the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. Forests are the cradle of human civilizations. Luxuriant forests and beautiful mountains and rivers are not only necessary conditions for human survival but are also indispensable for raising the quality of life and enriching spiritual culture. Without the forests around Vienna, it would have been difficult or even impossible for the tune “Blue Danube” to be composed. An eyeful of greenery and blossoming flowers, and refreshing working and living conditions have a positive impact on people's temperament, nurturing good moral practices and elevating the quality of life. Rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers is therefore crucial for the creation of an ecological civilization and for enhancing an ecological culture, an important component of advanced culture.
Rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers is also important for the preservation of the fundamental interests of the people. Sandstorms, droughts, and flooding disasters have become the three worst dangers to the survival of the Chinese nation, constituting grave threats to ecological security and inflicting serious damage on production and lives. Jiang Zemin pointed out in 1996, “It is imperative to plant trees and grass on a large scale, increase vegetation, conserve water sources so as to solve fundamentally the problem of drought and shortage of water. Otherwise, we can never shake off the situation where we depend on heaven for food.” He further noted in 1999, “We should engage in afforestation in a big way to address the two grave dangers. One is to resolve the problem of the scarcity of vegetation on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River, which has led to soil erosion and brought about great floods to our country. The second is to intensify the control of desertification to achieve ‘man advances while sand retreats’ and not vice versa.” Scientific experiments have proved that planting trees and grass, increasing vegetation in the forests, and rebuilding beautiful mountains and rivers are fundamental measures to control and prevent desertification, flood, and drought. Addressing the three serious dangers and preserving ecological security reflect therefore the fundamental interests of the people.
In no “civilized” European country were there no deforestation. Deforestation is taking place in the United States, with Russia undergoing the same experience. Therefore, in my view, deforestation is in essence both a social element and social consequence.
Great achievements have been made in forestry development in China. However, at the same time, owing to historical and social reasons, the development of the forestry sector has not been without many difficulties. Often, before the old problems are solved, new ones emerge. With the old and new problems interweaving with and overlapping each other, they have seriously hampered the development of forestry and the achievement of the goals of development.
2.2.1 The Ecological Issue
Until the present, almost all the ecological and environmental problems encountered have been contrary to expectations. In addition to the problems in the development of forest resources there have been even more serious environmental problems.
126.96.36.199 Damage caused by soil erosion
The damage brought about by soil erosion to the Yellow River in China is well-known. Some Chinese say with bitterness that it is not silt but the blood of the Chinese nation in the river. In recent years, the Yangtze River has also suffered greatly from soil erosion. In the 1950s, the area of soil erosion around the Yangtze River basin was 360,000 square kilometers, and this figure rose to 560,000 square kilometers in the 1990s, an increase of 200,000 square kilometers in forty years. The annual soil loss from erosion amounted to 2.24 billion tons. The average annual amount of silt transferred in the main stream of the Yangtze River was more than 500 million tons. The area of soil erosion in the country is increasing at the rate of 10,000 square kilometers each year, and a total of 5 billion tons of soil is lost annually. In the past fifty years, about 2.67 million hectares of farmland were lost because of soil erosion. According to statistics, with one millimeter of surface soil lost, there will be a decrease of 10 kilograms of grain for each hectare. For a big agricultural country like China, this is no doubt a serious problem.
One of the gravest consequences of soil erosion is the worsening of floods. In the past 500 years, fifty-three huge floods occurred in the Yangtze River basin but in the past fifty years alone, a huge flood has happened every three years. From 1950 to 1980, an average of 10 million hectares of cultivated land were affected by flooding, with 8 million hectares suffering serious damage and a loss of 10 billion kilograms in grain output. Millions of people suffered from these floods which caused an average annual economic loss of 15–20 billion yuan. Since the 1980s, the problem of flooding has become more serious. The areas of flooding and the disaster rate of the seven big rivers, including the Yangtze, Yellow, Zhujiang (Pearl), and Huaihe rivers, have witnessed increases compared with the 1960s and 1970s. In the summer of 1998, extremely serious floods, rarely seen in history, occurred. In particular, a huge flood covered the whole of the Yangtze River basin, the biggest since the flooding in 1954, and record-breaking floods took place in Songhuajiang and Lenjiang rivers. The disaster-stricken areas of the country reached 22.29 million hectares, with 13.78 million hectares seriously affected, causing the loss of 4,150 lives and direct economic loss of 255.1 billion yuan.
From the 1950s to the 1960s, the areas of land covered by sand expanded each year by 1,560 square kilometers and the figure grew to 2,100 square kilometers between the 1970s and the 1980s, to 2,460 square kilometers in the 1990s, and to 3,436 square kilometers presently. Desertification has caused the degeneration of farmland and grassland in China. Since the 1950s, 670,000 hectares of farmland, 2.35 million hectares of grassland, and 6.39 million hectares of forestland have been transformed to moving sand dunes. In areas such as Houshan, Ulanchabu Banner (county), Alashan Banner, Inner Mongolia, the lower reaches of the Tarim River in Xinjiang, the southeastern part of the Caidamu Basin, Qinghai, Bashang of Hebei Province and Naqu, Tibet, the average annual expansion ratio of desertification reached more than 4%. With the advancing sand dunes, tens of thousands of herdsmen were forced to leave their hometowns and became “ecological refugees.” In the whole country, 170 million people have been affected by desertification. The expansion of desertification has caused the living space of the Chinese nation to shrink, representing one of the most serious ecological problems and posing a grave danger to the country.
Desertification has a direct impact on all aspects of the country's economic and social development. In May 1993, a devastating sandstorm in the northwestern part of the country caused the death of 380 people, as well as the loss or death of 120,000 head of livestock and the destruction of crops on 0.34 million hectares of farmland, which inflicted a total of 540 million yuan in economic losses. In April 1998, twelve prefectures in northwestern China were struck by a sandstorm, which destroyed the crops on 30,700 hectares of farmland, and caused the death of 110,000 head of livestock. More than 1.5 million people were affected by the disaster and the direct economic loss amounted to 800 million yuan. In the last thirty years in Etuoke Banner of Inner Mongolia, 2,200 houses and more than 3,300 livestock sheds were buried by shifting sand, and nearly 700 families were compelled to leave to settle elsewhere. According to estimates, the direct economic loss arising from desertification has reached 54 billion yuan each year, averaging 150 million yuan per day.
188.8.131.52 Decreasing wetland resources
The number of natural lakes in China has decreased from 2,800 in the past to more than 1,800 presently, and their total acreage has declined by 36%. Some lakes around cities have already lost or almost lost all their ecological functions owing to serious pollution and eutrophication.
According to incomplete statistics, in the coastal regions, the accumulated loss of coastal beaches and wetlands reached 1.19 million hectares, and 1 million hectares of wetlands were occupied by industries and mines. The acreage of reclaimed land from lakes in the country stood at 300,000 hectares, and 1,000 lakes simply disappeared because of this. The area of Dongting Lake shrank from 430,000 hectares at the end of the 1940s to 240,000 hectares at present, a decrease of 40%. Its storage of water declined by 34%. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the area of Boyang Lake decreased by 4,000 hectares each year.
Owing to the mining of peat and land reclamation, the area of marshes and wetlands in the country has declined sharply. The Sanjiang Plain used to be the biggest region of marshes. According to statistics, in 1975 the marshes there covered 2.44 million hectares, accounting for 48% of the plain. In 1985, the figure went down to 1.5 million hectares, or 29% of the plain. In 1990, only 1.13 million hectares remained, or 22% of the plain area. With the gradual decrease of the natural wetland areas, the ecological functions of the wetlands have tangibly weakened. In addition, biodiversity has declined and the ecology has worsened through aggravated wind and soil erosion, and soil becoming sand and salinized.
184.108.40.206 Threat to wild animals and plants
Because of the scarcity of forest resources and the damage to the habitats of wild animals and plants, as well as indiscriminate hunting, many of China's precious rare animals and plants are on the verge of extinction. The number of black-headed gibbons and black bears in Hainan has decreased. Rare tree species such as Wang Hsie (Parashorea chinensis) and Dryobalanops aromatica are on the verge of extinction. Forest animals such as elephants, gibbons, the white-throated Brown Hornbill (Ptilolaemus ticklli), the rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis), and the grey peacock pheasant have declined in numbers. More than twenty precious or rare animals such as David's deer (Elaphurus davidianus), wild horse (Equus przewalskii), Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica), entellus Langur (Presbytis entellus), hog deer (Cervus porcinus), yellow-bellied tragopan (Tragopan caboti), rhinoceros, Chinese Turkestan tiger, crested shelduck, Mikado Pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado), and others have become virtually extinct. Another twenty animals, such as the giant panda (Aiuropoda melanoleuca), gibbon, tiger, wild elephant, Hainan Eld's Deer (Cervus eldi), Yunnan snub-nose monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti), Guizhou golden monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi), dugong, Chinese river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), and yellow-bellied tragopan (Tragopan coboti), are also on the verge of extinction. Nearly 200 species peculiar to China have disappeared, some of which have become extinct. Preliminary statistics show that currently there are more than 300 land vertebrates, about 410 species, and thirteen categories of wild plants that are endangered. This represents about 15–20% of animals and plants in China, a rate higher than the world average of 10–15%. Of the 640 endangered species in the world on the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 156 are from China, accounting for 24% of the total. On the List for Wildlife of State Priority Conservation, 335 wild animals are enlisted for first- and second-class protection, while on the List for Wild Flora of State Priority Conservation, 246 wild plants have been given first- and second-class protection.
Scientists estimate that by 2010, between 3–4,000 plants will be endangered in China. The species are generally interlinked with and restrain each other. Under normal conditions, they exchange some energy and materials between them, forming a sort of interdependent and balanced relationship. If one of these species undergoes changes, the relative stability of the whole system will break down as other species will be affected. Therefore, the extinction of one plant will lead to the disappearance of up to thirty other living things which depend on this plant.
2.2.2 Solving Ecological Problems
As efforts are being made to tackle the present problems, new ones are emerging with the changing economic and social environment, making it more difficult than ever before to find solutions for the problems.
220.127.116.11 The deteriorating ecological environment
The state of the ecological environment in China is not promising. In fact, it has shown a slow but accumulative deterioration, since worsening in the 1970s. In the 1990s, however, there have been some localized improvements, yet the overall trend of a worsening ecological environment has not been brought under effective control. Control measures have not been able to offset the damage caused. Though the speed of the deterioration has slowed down because of intensified control measures, the situation has not changed much. Natural resources and the environment remain the principal factors impeding the social and economic development of the country. Environmental problems such as serious soil erosion, frequent droughts and floods, and expanding desertification are closely linked to inadequate forest resources and the destruction of vegetation.
The grave situation of the ecological environment has led to an urgent demand for its improvement and exerted heavy pressure on forestry development. Thus, the forestry sector is faced with a great responsibility in ecological development.
18.104.22.168 Forest resources under pressure
In just over twenty years of reform and the opening up of the country, China has reached the level of development that the developed countries achieved in one hundred years, but various problems, particularly ecological and environmental problems, have successively appeared within a short time. These problems are eruptive and extensive in nature. The ecological problems that surface during development are often interwoven with original ones, overlapping them and making the problems even more complicated.
The huge population and high rate of economic growth have led to heavy consumption of forest resources and exerted great pressure on them. According to successive inventories of forest resources, in the past fifty years, 10 billion cubic meters of forest resources have been consumed, equal to 88.73% of the current national stock volume of 11.27 billion cubic meters. Calculated on the basis of current average annual consumption of 370 million cubic meters of forest resources, in the next fifty years, at least 18.5 billion cubic meters of forest resources will be consumed in the country, 1.6 times the present national stock volume.
The situation of control coexisting with ongoing damage to the environment is serious. China's economic development has an apparent regional feature as well as a multipolar characteristic. A special structure has been formed in which, horizontally, there are economically developed regions and economically backward regions in the same development period while, vertically, they are in divergent development phases. Thus, regional discrepancies have appeared in the way of thinking and model of development. The people's understanding of the ecological value of forests and their mode of conduct differ. At the same time that some regions see forests as important ecological and social resources, other regions which are economically dependent on forest resources are still sacrificing these resources in return for higher grain yield and economic growth, leading to the loss of large areas of forestland.
22.214.171.124 Structural contradiction between demand and supply of forest products
Forestry products are important means of production and subsistent in national economic development and for the people's livelihood. However, with the exception of low-grade wood-based panels, low-grade paper and paper products, rosin and a few commercial forest products, the demand and supply of which are by and large balanced, there are big shortfalls in the supply of the majority of forestry products. This structural shortage is serious and the gap between demand and supply is widening. In the meantime, the cultivation and utilization of forest resources have been divorced from each other. On the one hand, the cultivation of commercial forest resources is not well-planned and organized according to the needs of the market. At the same time, the cultivation of non-commercial forest resources does not yield high economic value. On the other hand, the pattern of development of the forestry industry and its structure do not take into account the changes in the structure of the forest resources and thus the utilization and cultivation of resources are incompatible. Inadequate supply of resources and structural imbalance coexist at the same time, making it difficult for the limited resources to be used effectively. The industrial structure of forestry is also not rational as the primary, secondary, and tertiary industries are not well-balanced. At present, the ratio of the primary industries is as high as 66%, while the secondary industries make up less than 30%, and the tertiary industries less than 4%.
To a great extent, the gap between the supply of and demand for forestry products in China is the concrete expression of the inherent shortage of forest resources. Given its land resources, the development phase in which China finds itself, and the development mode it has taken, its forest resources can hardly meet the various requirements. In particular, after the basic policy for the protection of the ecology and environment was introduced, the structural contradiction between the supply and demand of timber and forestry products, already serious, became even more acute, and there does not seem to be an effective alternative plan and measures for solving this anomaly.
In view of China's national conditions and the present interest in its development internationally, to balance the supply of timber and forestry products through imports is not a viable solution. On one hand, China is a country with rich forest resources as well as a big population. The limited forest resources serve as an important source of employment in a country with abundant surplus labor and this situation is unlikely to change for a long time. On the other hand, in the common pursuit of sustainable development, traditional resource-exporting countries have taken restraining policies so that international trade can be carried out according to common international policies. The option for log import is thus becoming less viable.
126.96.36.199 The cost of ecological environment development
Along with the establishment of a market economy, social resources which may be utilized without charge are becoming less available so that the cost of development of the ecological environment has shown an upward trend.
In the past, the advantages of the socialist system were taken into full consideration when undertaking ecological projects and a development mechanism was designed in which the input of labor of the farmers was the main component while that of the State was secondary. Thus, the farmers became the main participants in the development and played a decisive role in the implementation. Even for the state-sponsored Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program, the State invested only 70 million yuan each year. It was too little for the program to plant trees covering nearly 0.67 million hectares. With further reform and the gradual improvement of the market system, the contradiction between undertakings for public welfare and the pursuit of economic interests by those engaged in development is becoming more obvious. The original input mechanism can no longer play its intended role, and it is imperative to increase inputs for development and change the development mechanism.
The scope and content of ecological environment development have gradually expanded and the goals have shown a tendency toward diversification. Under the conditions of a market economy, the ability of the government to mobilize social resources for ecological environment development by relying on the advantages of the system is gradually becoming weaker. Owing to the contradiction between development for public welfare and preserving the ecological environment and the pursuit of economic interests for commercial purposes, it is difficult to motivate the private sector to invest in this field. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to play the dominant role in ecological environment development by providing adequate inputs.
The direct cost of this development has risen tangibly and changes have taken place with regard to seedling, management, and the protection of the ecological environment. In the early years of the reform and opening up of the country, the subsidy for each hectare for ecological development was less than 150 yuan whereas at present each hectare of afforestation costs more than 1,500 yuan, and in some cases the figure is as high as 15,000 yuan. The government's capacity for sustained input will directly determine the scope and speed of ecological improvement in China.
188.8.131.52 Need for forestry reform
Owing to historical reasons, the forestry industry was one of the sectors most affected and restrained by the planned economy system. The ownership structure of land was unitary, which was the outstanding feature of production relationships in the forestry industry for a long time. This greatly hindered the development of the productive forces of forestry. The operations of a market economy require that all elements of production, including forest resources, be distributed in an optimum manner. However, some of the present forestry laws and regulations run counter to this. It may be said that the present forest management system and operational mechanism are not compatible with the characteristics of ecological and industrial development, much less meet the requirements of a socialist market economic system for social development.
Contradictions exist between the difficult task of ecological development and the requirements of the underdeveloped areas. Heavy taxation and fees, and other restraining factors with regard to timber production and distribution have hampered the inflow of commercial capital into the forestry industry, deprived the producers in the industry of their basic rights and interests, and dampened the people's enthusiasm for afforestation and conservation of forests. Forestry is among the weakest industries in the national economy and because of its low comparative advantage, it is difficult to attract commercial capital for its activities. Moreover, the industry has a weak foundation with a low level of self-development. The production cycle of forestry is long, its locality is remote, and it does not enjoy easy access to information. The industry has also made slow progress in science and technology, and its personnel are not adequately trained. Although its management of business is extensive, its awareness of the reform and opening up of the country, as well as the development of a market economy, is not strong. All the above factors have restrained the development of productive forces of forestry to different degrees.
184.108.40.206 The old and new of forestry development
The reality of China's forestry industry is that it is essential to march along the road and build it at the same time. The road is the basic regime for the development of forestry. The road must be built in quick and steady steps. But for forestry, a heavy-duty and big-capacity transport vehicle, the road is neither strong nor wide enough. In the process of facilitating forestry development, views and concepts have been constrained by the planned economy system and too much reliance has been placed on traditional practices while the theory and methods of a market economy have not been well understood. The current regimes and regulations can hardly satisfy the requirements for the development of forestry in the new era and there is a lack of an effective mechanism to monitor the forestry development fund, which has increased significantly. The task of abolishing the “old” ways is difficult but even more is the task of building up the “new.” It is necessary to build the road while marching on it, that is, integrate new concepts and take new measures for the speedy development of the industry. Thus, it is important to facilitate the development of forestry through active reforms to meet the increasing and diversified demands of the people, especially the improvement of the ecological environment. How well the road is built is dependent on the survival and development of forestry and also the speed and quality of the development.
China can work out the alternative to push forward the green reform. They have this ability, but the problem is whether they will take this alternative. It is exciting that they are taking actions.
China Human Development Report 2002: Making Green Development A Choice compiled by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), points out that China is at the crossroads of sustainable development. The report has proposed two future scenarios: the first is the “dangerous road”—that is, to continue the present policy; the second is the “green reform road”—that is, a more active sustainable road which puts the people first. The report holds that the challenges China faces in ecological environment development are steep and complex. The rapid pace of economic development in the past twenty years has aggravated the extensive damage to farmlands, resulting in serious desertification and salinization of land, deforestation, soil erosion, land pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
Two options are open to China at this juncture. One is to wait for a turning point in accordance with the order of the phases of development—in other words, follow the way taken by the developed countries, which is defined as “Their yesterday is our today while their today our tomorrow.” This path is neither what is expected, nor what can be accepted. In fact, even if China wants to follow this road, it may not be possible. The classic development model had its accompanying or coexisting development environment. In the pre-industrialized society, development depended on natural resources such as land and forests and related technologies whereas in the industrialized society, development depended upon large-scale consumption of unrenewable resources and correspondingly utilized technologies related to these resources. For China, a large developing country, the premises have already changed as it did not achieve industrialization by following the classic development model. In their time, the few developed countries experienced unique conditions. For a long time, they were able to overcome ecological problems brought about by development and growth through utilizing the rich resources available to them, and even transferred these problems elsewhere. Under different premises and development objectives, therefore, a country will need to develop different development models.
The second model, therefore, is to follow the road that takes into account the actual development conditions. The experience of China's forestry development indicates that this road not only exists, but there are also signs that this is the way it should go.
2.3.1 The Enlightenment of the Farmers of Chifeng
Some people have described the survival mode of the poor as follows: “The tactic of the poor for survival is that when their land cannot grow grain and even a blade of grass, they will move to more fertile land.” This description has been true for a long time and in many places. Because of this, poverty and backwardness have become the most basic reasons for the disastrous fate of the ecological environment. However, in the small mountainous village of Chifeng, in Inner Mongolia, where conditions were extremely harsh, the people did not follow this logic, but blazed a new trail.
According to historical records, in ancient times, Chifeng enjoyed bumper rainfall, wet weather, luxuriant forests, fertile grassland, and rich resources. Up to the Liao Dynasty (AD916–1125), the Chifeng region was covered by vast areas of forests. To the north, there were virgin forests in the Daxing'anling Mountains, and to the south, there was Songzhou, described by the historical records as “800 li stretch (huge area) of pine forests on the plain.” From Chifeng to Linxi and Keshiketeng banners (counties), there was an endless expanse of forests with high trees pointing to the sky. The region was famous for the abundant production of pine wood during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties. The history books also record that here “the land is fertile, suitable for farming and the grass and water make it convenient to raise livestock.” Shen Kuo, a well-known scientist during the Song Dynasty (AD960–1279), inspected in detail the mountains, rivers, and topography in the region and wrote in his book, Notes from Foreign Land during Xining Reign, about the Chifeng region where “the plants are lush” and the “land is suitable for raising livestock.”
The felling of forests thoroughly changed all this. In 1947, only 0.4 million hectares of forests remained in Chifeng and the percentage of forest cover was only 5%. The plain of pines, originally with green grass, fertile land, and luxuriant flora, turned into an expanse of crisscrossing valleys as a result of blinding sandstorms. Soil erosion and desertification became more and more serious, presenting a landscape of vast expanses of barren land. Disasters caused by sandstorms, hail, and floods became frequent.
Farmland and grassland suffered from long-term wind and sand incursions, grain yield remained low and unstable, and animal husbandry developed at a slow pace. At that time, the annual grain output of Chifeng was less than 300 million kilograms and the amount of livestock stood at only 1 million head. The harsh ecological environment not only made the economic development of the city difficult, but also threatened the survival of the masses on the mountainous and sandy areas. According to incomplete statistics, in the thirty years from 1958 to 1988, in Wengniute, Aohan, Balin Right and Aluke'erqin banners (counties), shifting sand buried 231 kilometers of highway, 8,891 rooms of housing, 0.18 million hectares of farmland, and 0.38 million hectares of grassland. More than 600 farmers and herdsmen and their families were forced by shifting sand to flee elsewhere.
The people were faced with having to make a major decision that would affect the present and future generations: whether they should eke out a living amidst these difficulties and miseries, or rise up against this fate and change it. By the end of the 1970s, the Chifeng people were at the end of their patience and cried out in the crisis. A young man in Liudaoling village, in the township of Wangjiayingzi, Aohen Banner, Chifeng, wrote a letter to the mayor in which he said that in Liudaoling village there were barren mountains, hillsides and dry riverbed, there was no firewood for any family, the riverbed got higher year by year, and the farmland less year by year. Thus the people faced a dead end!
Troops were deployed in such a way that it left no route for retreat so that the people had to fight for their lives and win the battle. The people of Chifeng, driven by hope and spirit, built up a valley for an ecological economy on land where they could hardly survive and changed the look of their hometown. Their struggles are recorded in the inscription on a tablet erected by the local Committee of CPC and government of the banner in the village:
Liudaoling, also called 12-linked mounts, has actually 30 hills and 18 valleys. In the past, the area was crisscrossed by gullies and the mountains remained barren. Beginning from 1989, for the survival of the 900 villagers, the CPC committee and villagers' committee of the village led 300 laborers in a steadfast struggle to conquer nature despite the intense heat. The newly married wives did not go back to their hometown for the ritual visit, (instead) they came to join in the work. Small children and the aged also joined in the work and everybody had calloused hands. Relying on simple tools like spades and shovels, they cut rocks and mountains. Very often they ate out in the open and braved the cold and heat. In total they dug 700,000 cubic meters of earth and rock, comprehensively improved an acreage of 907 hectares in the basin, and shaped the valley for an ecological economy with luxuriant flora. Currently, the water does not flow down the hillside and the soil is not washed into the river, which is particularly conducive to the sustainable development of agriculture and animal husbandry at the lower reaches. Such change has shocked the sky and earth and moved both the deities and ghosts to tears. Their undaunting spirit is worth the respect, inheritance, and emulation of future generations.
People should be filled with hope and vigor to confront a major crisis which will decide their fate, instead of shirking their responsibilities which can lead to death.
2.3.2 The Experience of Guangdong
From the mid-1980s, the forestry industry in Guangdong took the lead in the country, rising rapidly to set a shining example for the development of forestry nationwide.
In terms of forestry, Guangdong is a big province with “70% of the province being mountains, 10% of water surface, and 20% of farmland.” Before 1985, forestry development in the province was insignificant, which did not match the rapidly developing economy and the higher standard of living of the people. In view of the demands for social and economic development, the Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Provincial People's Government in 1985 made the decision to accelerate afforestation and green the whole province as soon as possible. The decision called on the people to participate in afforestation and greening activities by “planting trees within five years and greening Guangdong in ten years.” Responding to the call, an afforestation and greening campaign was launched in the whole province. The enthusiastic participation of the CPC, government, army units, and the population resulted in the objective of greening the land in Guangdong being realized in 1993, two years ahead of schedule.
In 1994, the Provincial Committee of the CPC and the Provincial People's Government made the decision to consolidate the greening exercise and to accelerate the forestry modernization drive. All the regions of the province made great efforts and took the lead in introducing management reform in forestry in stages, and consolidated and expanded the greening activities and pushed forward the process of forestry modernization.
In 1998, the Provincial Committee of the CPC and the Provincial People's Government made the decision to organize a second round of this pioneering work, to optimize the ecological environment, and to accelerate the process of industrialization of the forestry sector. The decision gave prominence to the dominant role of forestry in ecological development, set forth the goals of increasing resources, enhancing benefits, improving the environment, and basically realizing the modernization of forestry. This also facilitated the nurturing of forest resources and the development of forestry industrialization.
In 2000, the Provincial People's Government decided on consolidating the fruits of afforestation and greening and enhancing the three main benefits of forestry. The decision identified the direction that forestry development should take in the new century, and at the same time formulated realistic and feasible policies and measures.
Owing to the great importance placed by the Committees of the CPC and government at all levels of the province, and the joint efforts of the forestry administrative departments and the population, forestry in the province witnessed continued development, and great achievements were made. The forestland in the province grew from 4.07 million hectares in 1985 to 9.23 million hectares in 2000. In the same period, the living stock of trees increased from 170 million cubic meters to 316 million cubic meters, while forest cover increased from 27.7% to 56.9%, realizing the virtuous cycle of growth of forest resources, surpassing that of consumption. The development of forestry in the province has made important contributions to promoting economic development of the mountainous areas, and the farmers have been able to shake off poverty and become rich through optimizing the ecological environment and facilitating the sustainable economic and social development of the whole province. In the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the province built a public-welfare ecological forest system stretching 3.40 million hectares and a commercial forest base of 3.30 million hectares, including 0.67 million hectares of fast-growing and high-yielding forest, 0.67 million hectares of bamboo, 1 million hectares of economic forests including fruit trees, and 1 million hectares of forests to provide industrial materials. By the end of the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the total output value of the forestry industry stood at 50 billion yuan, reaching the goal of doubling the previous figure.
In less than twenty years, Guangdong Province accomplished major developments in forestry and realized two goals: the greening of the whole province and the eradication of barren mountains; and the optimization of the forest structure. The province was able to rapidly develop the forestry industry because it gave emphasis to the role of forestry in development. Through publicity, and mobilizing and organizing the people of the whole province toward this goal, it became an effort of the whole society rather than by the industry alone. A regime was set up to be responsible for these greening objectives which were divided up and placed on the shoulders of cadres at all levels, thus fully mobilizing the government at various levels to lead the people in forestry development and give effective support. Clear-cut development objectives for the different phases were identified, taking into consideration the actual conditions of the province. Feasible and effective policies were taken and organizational and financial support were given to ensure that forestry continued to progress.
Guangdong's experience in developing forestry has provided great insights. So long as importance is attached to forestry and feasible and effective development strategies are formulated in the light of actual conditions, it is very likely that forestry can develop rapidly. After more than twenty years of reform and opening up of the country, the understanding of the role of forestry in development by the whole society has been raised in an unprecedented way. With huge changes taking place in the national economy and society, the external environment of the 1980s in Guangdong, when the province began developing forestry, now exists in the whole country. Thus, taking the experience of Guangdong as a model, if a scientific development strategy is followed, China's forestry should develop at a pace surpassing that in the past.
If man has a responsible creation, they will make efforts to change the “reality,” then the future will be praiseworthy, the world will become a happy place for his descendants' working, living and peacefully loving.
In the 21st century, the society and economy of China have undergone drastic changes compared with the last century. The people's resolve to tackle the ecological environment problem and overcome its deficits have been greatly reinforced and unprecedented opportunities lie ahead.
2.4.1 Caring for the Ecological Environment
Never before have the Chinese people been so concerned about their ecological environment as today because it has had a great impact on their lives, so that they have come to demand and expect much from it. The whole population has basically overcome its difficulties in ensuring sufficient food and clothing and has entered into the development process to build an affluent society. The ecological environment has become an important factor contributing to an affluent society, by providing a quality life for the people. The Chinese people aspire to change the environment for their own survival and development. This aspiration has had a strong impact on the whole society and influenced the relationship between supply and demand in the ecological environment. In his book Economics, Paul Samuelson said that even a parrot can become a learned economist—all it must learn was the two words of ‘supply’ and ‘demand.’ Strong social demand cannot but raise a strong demand for changing the traditional supply model and so it is essential, imperative, and unavoidable to strive to increase supply. Demand is pressure, and more, it is a driving force. At the same time, it is fortunate that the whole world is now actively formulating a strategy for sustainable development. The fundamental aim of this strategy is to put the people's interests first, that is, to tangibly improve the quality of life, and the improvement of the quality of the environment plays an important part in achieving this goal. This serves as the motivation for improving the ecological environment and a sustainable development model is essential in this pursuit. Thus, changing the development mode and adjusting the relationship between man and nature are matters of some urgency.
2.4.2 The Introduction of a Market Mechanism
In the area of ecological environment development, not only is the role of the government important, but also the market mechanism. The Polluter Pay Principle, should be observed, so should the principle of whoever controls pollution gets the benefits. The sustained growth of China's economy since the reform and opening up of the country has put pressure on the ecological environment as well as raised the expectations of society in this area. This has stimulated efforts for improving the ecological environment and provided a new platform for its development. In turn, this has enabled quick steps to be taken in ecological environment development with more flexible and effective means. The ability of the government to support the improvement of the ecological environment in a sustained way has also tangibly increased, making it possible to continually boost the inputs necessary for this development. The introduction of a market mechanism may also attract private investment, realize investment pluralism, and raise development funds through multiple channels and from different directions. The continually improving laws and regulations have also enhanced the protection of the ecological environmental, restrained irrational exploitation, encouraged the active participation of the whole population, and increased their awareness for environmental protection.
2.4.3 Adjusting the Economic Structure
China's economic development has entered a crucial period of large-scale structural adjustment, which is also an opportune time for reforming the traditional form of production. At present, there is a comparative excess of grain production of about 8–9%. This has created an opportunity to reduce the long-term burden on agricultural resources and the ecological environment by making structural adjustments and remolding the traditional form of production. Steps have already been taken in this direction. Given the constant low prices of agricultural products, in particular grain, farmers, through a comparison of interests, have taken the initiative to adjust the product structure. Because of the double impact of natural forest protection and China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), farmers in the regions where forestry has advanced rapidly have switched their attention to developing fast-growing and high-yielding forests, with good momentum seen in Shandong, Jiangsu, and other places.
Whether or not the force of globalization can play an effective role in environmental development depends on the policies adopted. The core of China's new economic and resources policy in its effort to globalize is to make full use of the four “twos:” two resources, two markets, two technologies, and two capitals. The relevant policies should be adjusted in four aspects. The first is to move from mainly utilizing domestic resources and being highly self-sufficient to fully utilizing global resources while ensuring an appropriate ratio of self-supply. The second is to change from a closed and semi-open market with relatively high-access barriers to easier market access, and to accelerate the opening up of the market for the energy and environmental protection industries. The third is to shift from mainly using domestic funds, particularly government investments in environmental protection and ecological development, to the use of funds from both the domestic and international markets. The fourth is to switch from relatively high tariffs, more trade barriers, and high cost for the introduction of new technologies to zero tariff to enable global environmental technologies and equipment to be obtained at low cost.
This is an opportune moment for structural adjustments to be made. Whether or not China can make these adjustments will depend on its capacity to design and implement strategic policies to enable it to achieve ecological development, correct the damage accumulated over many years, curb the deterioration of the ecological environment, and leave a clean and beautiful living space for later generations.
Reviewing the positive experiences and negative lessons in China's forestry development reveals three observations. The first is to recognize the current state of forestry and seize the opportunities available. China is in the primary stage of socialism and forestry remains at a relatively low level of development. The gap between the slow growth of forest resources and the requirements for restoring beautiful mountains and rivers and preserving the ecological environmental is extensive. The contradiction between the increasing demand for forestry by society and the lag in forestry production remains a basic problem at the present stage. Moreover, the rapidly increasing ecological demands and the lag in forestry production also poses a problem. China's forestry development must proceed from this understanding of the present state of forestry and seek a solution by focusing on solving the main contradictions.
The second observation is that forestry should be studied in the context of national economic and social development. The Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council have made a series of policy decisions. These include implementing a sustainable development strategy, developing the western region, reforming the economic structure, and enhancing ecological development. This has provided an opportunity for accelerating forestry development and restoring the beautiful mountains and rivers. China must seize this historic opportunity, forge ahead with the times, identify the right starting point, adjust the pattern and emphasis of forestry productive forces, quicken the pace in restoring beautiful mountains and rivers, and better serve the overall situation.
The third observation is the recognition that forestry is a dynamic process. Problems will continually be present but they must be identified and solved. It is also necessary to constantly raise the level of forestry by continually reviewing and innovating. It is therefore imperative to formulate new policies in the light of the new situation, review its advantages, and seek new avenues for development.
Through understanding the basic national forestry conditions and studying the new strategy to accelerate the pace of forestry development, it is possible to develop forestry productive forces as the central link by adjusting the pattern and emphasis of forestry production and optimizing the advantages and potential of forestry, thus beginning a new epoch for forestry development.
Promoting forestry development through programs has been a successful experience. In the light of the objective of the State to develop the ecological environment, it is essential to integrate systematically the key programs in forestry development, emphasize the principle of the “ecology enjoying priority, [and] protection prevails,” and acting according to local circumstances. It is also important to build defenses against dangers, and to embody the development posture and features of the time. Through integration, adjustment, and optimization of the programs, a new pattern for the development of productive forces will emerge.
2.5.1 The Necessity for Integrating Programs
Forestry development in China has undergone a difficult zigzag process. Starting with the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program, it has implemented a dozen key programs nationwide and achieved tangible results. During this period, China's forestry went through two important development phases. The first phase, with the initiation of the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program as the pioneer, had the special feature of both utilizing forest resources and developing the ecological environment. The second phase, starting with a program for the protection of natural forest resources, attached great importance to the preservation of existing forests, and protecting the ecologically vulnerable regions.
Promoting forestry development in China through programs has been a success. The ecological environment in some localities has improved markedly and huge changes have taken place in key areas. Since the reform and opening up of the country, a series of key programs have been initiated, such as the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program, the Shelterbelt Development Program for the Middle and Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River, the Coastal Shelterbelt Development Program, the Plain Greening Program, the Taihang Mountains Afforestation Program, the National Sand Control and Prevention Program, the Integrated Shelterbelt Program for the Huaihe River Valley and the Taihu Lake Region, the Integrated Shelterbelt Program for the Zhujiang (Pearl) River Valley, the Integrated Shelterbelt Program for the Liaohe River Valley, the Shelterbelt Development Program for the Middle Reaches of the Yellow River, and the development of fast-growing and high-yielding timber forest bases. Recent initiatives include the planning and implementation of the Greening Program around Beijing and Tianjin, the Natural Forest Protection Program, the Program for Converting Farmland to Forest and Pasture, the Program for Sand Control and Prevention around Beijing, and others. These programs have greatly boosted forestry development.
However, it should be noted that these programs were started under divergent historical conditions, with their main roles differing from each other. Differences in emphasis on ecological development, development cycles, management mode, main policies, and level of investment have resulted in some problems arising in the actual implementation.
220.127.116.11 Low input in the implementation of programs
As the major forestry development programs are being implemented at the primary stage of socialism, the state support for the programs is limited by the national economic strength so that its funding cannot fully meet the requirements for the implementation of the programs. Basically, there is low per-unit input for the promotion of large-scale programs.
18.104.22.168 Overlapping of program coverage and crossing of functions
Although the low-level investments can hardly meet the needs of development, the program scope is continually being expanded and new projects added. Moreover, the later programs have similar functions and cover the same regions as the earlier ones. Such examples are Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program and the National Sand Control and Prevention Program, the Greening Program around Beijing and Tianjin, and the Program for Sand Control and Prevention around Beijing.
22.214.171.124 Lack of standardization and uniformity in program management
As the numerous programs were started at different times, under different conditions, following different designs and examination and approval procedures, as well as using different funds, divergent implementation and management regimes and methods were shaped. There is a lack of unified standards among the programs so that the quality and beneficial effects of the programs were adversely affected. Moreover, large discrepancies in the channels and modes of input and responsibility sharing among the programs exist, which seriously affected their smooth implementation.
126.96.36.199 Lack of stability and continuity in implementation
The tasks involved in these key forestry programs are immense and they have to be implemented over a long period. For areas where the ecological environment is fragile, results may be seen only after many years or even several generations of efforts. The relative stability of the program and clear-cut objectives are essential for achieving results.
Given the present situation in ecological environment development and in the light of the general requirements for national implementation and the existing problems in carrying out the ecological programs, it is imperative to systematically integrate the key forestry programs. This integration is not just an adjustment in quantity, but also a strategic change in the pattern of forestry production based on the demands of economic and social development in the new century. This is necessary to accelerate the pace of ecological environment development and raise the quality and other beneficial effects of the forestry programs.
2.5.2 The Opportunity and Conditions for Integrating Key Forestry Programs
The forestry sector is presently faced with an unprecedented development opportunity.
1. The Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council attach great importance to ecological environment development, emphasizing that it is the foundation of national economic and social development and the starting point for implementing the strategy to develop the western region. At the same time, the whole society realizes the importance of ecological development and is participating enthusiastically in this cause.
2. The State has formulated the National Plan for Ecological Environment Construction, set forth the objectives and orientation of ecological environment development until the mid-21st century, identified the basic guiding principles for this development, and pointed out the direction and focus of forestry development.
3. Along with the continued strengthening of the national economy, the State has boosted its input into ecological environment development. It has also objectively drawn up the requirements for promoting the dominant role of the key forestry programs, optimizing resources distribution, standardizing project management, and enhancing the beneficial effects of the programs so as to offer an economic basis for integrating these key programs, unifying policies, and standardizing management.
4. Through the experience and lessons of the past twenty years in forestry development, particularly in ecological development, it is possible to identify clearly the position of forestry in the new era, establish the guiding ideology in the work of forestry, and adopt the principle of management by forest type and by areas. In this way, the gap between the present status of forestry and national development in terms of ideological understanding and thinking can be bridged. This serves as the basis for integrating the key forestry programs.
Whether China will seize the opportunity and ride on the momentum hinges essentially on whether it can succeed in turning the opportunity into reality. Most important is whether China will be able to integrate the key forestry programs and achieve tangible results as quickly as possible. It must also standardize and raise the level of management of the programs to achieve lasting effects.
2.5.3 Integrating the Key Forestry Programs
In view of the demand for forestry brought about by economic and social development, and considering China's national and forestry conditions, its natural and economic laws, its line of thinking and development strategy in forestry development and ecological improvement, the key forestry programs under planning or implementation have been integrated into the six key programs.
188.8.131.52 The natural forest resources protection program
After two years of pilot work, the natural forest protection programs in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River, as well as the key state-owned forest areas in the northeast and Inner Mongolia have been approved by the State Council. As the goal, orientation, and strategy for natural forest protection are basically the same, these programs should be guided and managed in a unified way, as a whole. It is imperative therefore to take firm measures to suspend commercial harvesting of the natural forests and reduce by a big margin the timber output in these areas. Only with these measures can the natural forest resources be protected. These measures can also be extended to other regions so that they become the very foundation of the forestry industry.
184.108.40.206 The shelterbelt development program
The shelterbelt development program forms an important part of ecological environment development. The series of shelterbelt development programs under implementation include, in particular, the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program, which has won high acclaim internationally. These efforts should not slacken especially with other shelterbelt development programs being planned or implemented. In planning and managing these programs, however, it is essential to unify and coordinate the efforts as much as possible and treat them as one program. After integration, all the individual programs should be linked to one another so as to avoid overlapping in terms of layout and function.
In phase four of the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program, existing development efforts can be consolidated and expanded while the layout can also be adjusted. The main thrust of the program can be sand control and prevention of soil erosion so as to protect the forest and increase grass vegetation. Closing off the hillsides will facilitate afforestation and growth of grass. Afforestation and grass-planting can be done by aerial seeding, and building windproof and sand-fixing forests (shelterbelts) will protect the existing vegetation, and curb the expansion of desertification. A greater part of the original Shelterbelt Development Program of the Liaohe River Valley has been incorporated into this program. Second, the shelterbelt development programs for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and other areas, including phase two of the shelterbelt development programs for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River basin, as well as the second phase of the Coastal Shelterbelt Development Program, the Shelterbelt Development Program of the Zhujiang (Pearl) River, the Taihang Mountains Afforestation Program, and the Plain Greening Program, have also been incorporated into this enlarged program.
220.127.116.11 The conversion of farmland to forest and pasture program
Converting farmland into forest and pastureland is one way to change the irrational modes of land use in order to reduce soil erosion and eradicate floods. This is also an important channel for strategically adjusting the economic structure in the rural areas, and serves as an extension of ecological development and a low-cost way to expand forestry. The converting of farmland on the steep slopes to forest and pastureland should be done according to an overall plan and in stages, with the easier tasks being done first and the more difficult later. The momentum should also be slow at first and accelerating later when the pilot work has been done.
18.104.22.168 The sand control program in Beijing and Tianjin
Sand control and prevention of soil erosion programs constitute an important aspect of ecological development of China. In view of the special locality of Beijing and the urgency of improving the ecological environment in the region, it is essential to designate the sand control program of Beijing and Tianjin as a separate one. The existing greening projects around Beijing and Tianjin are included in this program. It is important to intensify efforts to protect the present vegetation, and prevent the desertification of more land, by fixing sand and planting trees and grass, build or restore the vegetation of the sandy areas and construct windproof and sand-fixing systems using bushes, grass, and arbor. It is also necessary to manage the degenerating grasslands, and restore their ecological and industrial functions, as well as control soil erosion, and rationally develop and utilize water resources.
22.214.171.124 The protection of wild fauna and flora and development of nature reserves program
Another important aspect of ecological environment development is the protection of wild fauna and flora, wetlands, and natural reserves. These resources must be more effectively protected to enable them to grow and develop. A special protection program should also be launched to protect precious, rare and endangered wild animals and plants.
126.96.36.199 The development program for fast-growing and high-yielding forests
It is important to develop a batch of fast-growing and high-yielding timber forests for industrial use. This can be done mainly in the south in accordance with the principle of management by categories and comparative advantage, and guided by the requirements of the market, the distribution of resources, and the ability to adjust to the market mechanism. The guidance and support of the government are also crucial in the pursuit of maximum economic benefits. The program can be implemented through focused cultivation and utilizing the management of enterprise so that sustainable national economic and social development for timber and other forestry products can be achieved.
The programs described above are generally called “the six key forestry programs.”
The integration of the programs embodies the concentration of resources for important issues, focal points, and the overall situation. Only in this way can the initiatives conform to the reality of forestry and the overall pattern of ecological development in the country.
The principal task of ecological development is given more prominence and the emphasis on the “ecology coming first, [with] protection playing the main role” is clearly defined. Thus, the parameter of ecological development is extended and stress is laid on protection rather than development.
The principle of acting according to the requirements of local conditions and building defences against the existing dangers is manifested. It is clear that sand control and prevention of soil erosion are emphasized in the present work.
The two systems form an organic whole and supplement and mutually promote each other. Forestry without ecological and social effects is one with unclear and limited functions whereas forestry without economic effects remains one without vitality and hope. It is important to address the issue of how to meet the multiple requirements for forestry brought about by national economic and social development and how to adjust the pattern of forestry production.
The integration of the programs is at the same time to enable adjustment and optimization. In essence, an adjustment of the pattern of production in forestry will make it more rational. This will enable the industry, on the basis of past achievements, to gradually shape the pattern of growth in China's forestry industry, with the six key forestry programs as the center.
The conditions of a market economy are conducive to broadening the environment for forestry development and establishing its dominant position in ecological development. The organization of the industry, the mobilization of society to provide funds, the support of the government at various levels for the development programs, and the concentration of social forces will facilitate the optimum distribution of the elements of forestry production and accelerate the process of ecological development.