Striding Development in Forestry
Striding Development in Forestry
The process of forestry development in modern times has followed a conventional pattern: often the increase in social economic aggregate is accompanied by a deterioration of the ecological environment. When attention is directed to controlling and improving the environment after social and economic development has been achieved, the cost from the worsening of the ecological environment meanwhile is indeed huge. Therefore, this conventional method of development is not suitable for China.
The situation determines the tasks. Both the rapid social and economic development experienced by China after the reform and opening up of the country and the serious situation of China's ecological environment have raised the demand for forestry development. The speed, quality, structure, and pattern of forestry development required at present cannot be compared with those of the past. It is clear that conventional forestry development will not meet the demands of rapid social and economic development. Its slow pace of development will surely impede the social and economic development of the whole country. Forestry must forge ahead along a super-conventional and super-speed path to achieve a leap in development. Therefore, a strategy for a speedy development of forestry seems to be the natural choice.
Although backward countries are compelled to follow the developed ones, the former cannot act in the same way. The privileges of historical laggards—and the existence of this privilege—permit or even compel themselves to adopt the finished development model at any time and in any place in order to skip the whole range of space.
The Fifth Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee of the CPC proposed that, “It is essential to push forward industrialization with informatization, take the advantage of starting later and realize rapid development of social productive forces.” In his Report on the Outline of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development delivered at the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress, Zhu Rongji pointed out that both the domestic and international situation required China to follow the road to rapid development. Jiang Zemin emphasized, “We must put development as the first priority of the CPC, exercising state power and rejuvenating the country and continually create new situations in the socialist modernization drive.” This is an important decision made by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council in the light of the domestic and international situation, showing great foresight. China is a developing country with urgent development tasks which are the means for tackling its social and economic problems, and innovation will be the main factor facilitating development. In the new historical period, forestry has been pushed to a prominent position as the main channel for ecological development, becoming an important component of the national economy. It has also been acknowledged as the basis for sustainable economic and social development. Wen Jiabao has observed, “In sustainable development, an important position should be conferred upon forestry, and in ecological development priority should be given to forestry.” The decision to adopt the strategy of striding development for the forestry industry is not only a natural step in economic and social development but also constitutes a sustainable development model to achieve China's objectives.
3.1.1 Development is the Solution to Forestry Problems
Peace and development are the two overriding themes of great interest to international society. Accelerating economic and social development is a common task that all the countries of the world must pursue. It is a mission of first priority for developing countries especially when much will be lost without development. Peace serves as the guarantee for economic development, and development is aimed at promoting peace. Given the reality of China's development, Deng Xiaoping advanced the famous theses: “Development is of overriding importance” and “Falling behind leads to humiliation,” and expounded on the relationship between peace and development. As the biggest developing country in the world, China shoulders the obligation of preserving world peace, the achievement of which must be supported by development. Only with a peaceful environment can development become a reality.
There are various models and options for development. Whether following the beaten track of the developed countries, or making a choice in the light of China's national conditions and actual development situation, will affect China's future and destiny. The experience of other world economies, particularly the developed countries, has shown that without valuing natural resources and the environment, and disregarding the needs of future generations, development cannot be sustainable. As a big developing country, China is fortunate to be able to design its future development path based on the theory of sustainable development and opt for a development strategy that is accountable to history and the nation.
The deteriorating environment is a critical problem restraining sustainable development. Without the support of the environment, sustainable development remains empty words. Therefore, the environment issue has gradually become an international problem, a common factor affecting the development of all mankind. Because of changes in the development concept, the role of forestry has been given more importance in the new development model. It has become a common understanding of the world that the protection of the environment means the protection of productive forces, and that improvement of the ecological environment means developing productive forces. The dominant position of forestry in the terrestial ecological environment has been confirmed and its main aim is to preserve the ecological security of the State and the world in order to achieve sustainable economic and social development. Forestry has been a principal part of the ecological environment system and great importance must be given to forestry in addressing the environmental problem.
3.1.2 Development in Phases
The development of world forestry has its inherent laws. Despite the differences in the levels of economic and social development, national conditions, and cultural backgrounds of the various countries, and despite the divergent phases and particular characteristics of their forestry development, there are common features among them.
Reviewing the development process of world forestry, studying the laws of forestry development, and determining the phase of China's forestry development will be useful in guiding the country toward sound development. As forestry development cannot be separated from social and economic development and their consequent demand for forestry, it is essential to adopt a historical, comprehensive and systematic posture to analyze and study forestry in the context of social and economic development. It is also imperative to determine the different phases of development from the perspective of sustainable development, particularly with regard to resources and the environment.
The successive world forestry congresses identified the prevailing requirements of the society of the time for forestry and the main tasks to be performed, as well as the basic trajectory for the development of world forestry. The themes of the congresses clearly indicate the five divergent phases in the process of the development of international forestry: the primitive utilization of forests, the overutilization of timber, forest renewal and development, multifunctional utilization, and sustainable development. Understanding the features and evolution of each phase and learning from history will help to identify the development path of forestry in the new century (see Table 3.1).
220.127.116.11 The phase of primitive utilization of forests
In this phase, forests were used by mankind out of the need for survival. From primitive times when people hunted for their living to the early period of the agricultural society, owing to the very low level of productive forces, the utilization of forests by mankind was limited to meeting the need for survival. Man made clothes from tree leaves, picked fruits for food, dug into tree trunks to make boats, and built shelters with wood. In this phase, under the premise that the forest was strong and man weak, man and the forest could coexist harmoniously.
18.104.22.168 The phase of overutilization of timber
This phase covered the period from the middle of the agricultural society to the early industrialized society. The development of social productive forces pushed the agricultural society toward industrialization, and the demand for timber and energy grew sharply. To obtain fuel and timber for household and military use, as well as land for agricultural production, and breeding of fowl and livestock, man resorted to the unrestrained felling of forests. At the same time, as the
|Table 3.1 The themes of successive world forestry congresses|
|4th||1954||Dehra Dun, India||The role and place of forested areas in economic development|
|5th||1960||Seattle, United States||The multiple use of forests|
|6th||1966||Madrid, Spain||The role of forestry in worldwide economic change|
|7th||1972||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Forests and socio-economic development|
|8th||1978||Jakarta, Indonesia||Forestry for people|
|9th||1985||Mexico City, Mexico||Forest resources in the integral development of society|
|10th||1991||Paris, France||Forests, a heritage for the future|
|11th||1997||Antalya, Turkey||Forestry for sustainable development: towards the twenty-first century|
|12th||2003||Québec, Canada||Forests, source of life|
source of primitive capital accumulation, great quantities of forests were plundered and exploited. Continual wars also contributed to the damaging of forest resources. The result was that forests were either turned into farmland as the basis of agriculture, or felled to obtain important resources. The rapid pace and large-scale utilization of forest resources was unprecedented. The consequences were first localized but later led to an overall shortage of timber resources. Artificial cultivation was given much importance as an effective means to sustain the supply of timber.
Owing to the irrational utilization of forest resources, the conversion from forestland to other uses was accelerated and the percentage of forest cover declined quickly. As a result, the quantity and quality of forest resources fell sharply. The overutilization of forest resources in this period was mainly due to the perception of mankind that forests were natural resources which could not be exhausted.
22.214.171.124 The phase of renewal and development of forests
The overutilization of timber led to the scarcity of forest resources and barren land, and also affected adversely social and economic development. Some countries, in order to ensure a sustainable supply of forest resources, intensified their control and management of forest utilization and renewed and developed forest resources in various ways. However, the renewal and development of forests still centered on timber production and this presented a feature where there was control but damaging continued. This period lasted from the early industrialization period until the middle of the 20th century, which can be divided into three subphases with distinct features.
The first subphase featured control while damaging continued, outweighing controlling. In general, when a country's economy attains an average annual per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1,000, the country would be able to control its land use, which would mark the start for renewing and developing its forest resources. This control is mainly reflected in large-scale afforestation with government support (including supporting private-owned forests); promulgating laws and regulations for controlling and managing forests, and setting up corresponding regimes for protecting and developing forest resources; and studying the theories and technologies related to forest management to ensure rational utilization.
In this period, however, the trend was localized control and the process of forestland being converted to other uses still continued. The principal reason was that the demands of society and the economy for forest resources for production and the livelihood of the people were still huge and the overall level of economic development was not high. It was thus difficult to support vigorously the development of forestry. According to the report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the forestry situation in the world (1997), the majority of developing countries, including Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean region, Asia and Oceania, have undergone this damaging and renewal period (see Table 3.2).
The second subphase saw a stalemate between damaging and controlling. Because of the unique features of forestry, such as the long cycle of operations, slow effects on public welfare, being easily damaged but difficult to redress, there is often a prolonged period of stalemate between the damaging and controlling of forests in the developing countries.
According to the data by FAO, in some developing countries such as Kenya, Bangladesh, and Nepal, forests have declined with the increase in population, but new plantations indicate a trend of growth. Under the pressure of a growing population, if natural forests decrease but planted ones increase, the forest area can remain relatively stable (see Figure 3.1). This period can last for a long time.
|Table 3.2 Changes in world forest area, 1990–1995 (in million hectares)|
|Forest area in 1990||Forest area in 1995||Change||%|
|Latin America & the Caribbean||979||950||–29||–3.0|
Another analysis by the United Nations has revealed the laws governing the evolution of forest areas in relation to the development (timing) of human society in developed countries (see Figure 3.2).
Studies have confirmed that in the developed countries, forestry underwent a prolonged period of stalemate in the process from decline to growth. In this period, engaging in secondary growth and plantations were two main tasks. After carrying out sound agricultural policies through effective government management, forested areas began to increase, changes were seen in the structure, and the objectives became varied.
The third subphase of restoration and development witnessed control outweighing damaging. Along with economic development and social progress, in this subphase the State and society increased their input for forest resources and ecological development, the measures, laws, and regulations curbing damage to the forest ecosystem gradually improved, and the theory on forest management and the technological system became relatively more refined. Internationally, the emergence of normal forests changed the management of forests from blind exploitation to orderly and rational utilization, ushering in a phase of sustainable utilization of timber resources. The theory and management model of normal forests was applied throughout the world for nearly 200 years, which promoted the development of theories on forestry. As the initiator of the theory on sustainable utilization of timber and normal forests, Germany took the lead in elevating forest management to a planned and systematic management phase, which divided the forests in terms of steps and time, and conducted orderly harvests with the purpose of maintaining the stability and continuity of timber output. Germany managed its forests for nearly 200 years using the normal forest model. Encouraged by the initial good results, Germany replaced broadleaf-tree forests, which are of low economic value, with coniferous forests all over the country. However, this step produced unexpected problems in the long run. According to the report on forest protection and environment (1994) by the government in Bavaria, Germany, these large plantations contracted serious diseases, and pests and strong winds, which destroyed a great part of them.
However, the normal forest model, which took into account only the timber benefits, changed natural forests into purely plantations, and violated the law of nature and damaged the ecological environment. The practice of normal forest has shown that violating ecological laws and pursuing purely economic objectives cannot be sustained.
126.96.36.199 The phase of multifunctional utilization
Along with the diversification of the needs of society for forestry, its development began to enter into the phase of multifunctional utilization. Multifunctional utilization includes, in addition to timber production, water-source conservation, water and soil conservation, forest landscaping, tourism and entertainment, and protection of biodiversity. Its main objective is to ensure that forests are rationally distributed according to its multidimensional functions and that management decisions are formulated according to its various goals.
In this phase, Germany revised its Forestry Law and set up regulations and standards for multifunctional management. It identified ten functions, with five categories of goals and their corresponding technical systems and had them implemented in compartments (plots), shaping a complete multifunctional system. At the Fifth World Forestry Congress held in 1960 in Seattle, USA, international consensus was reached to promote multifunctional forestry. The theme of the Congress was defined as “The multiple use of forests.” At the same time, the United States promulgated the Multiple-Use and Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 and coordinated the relationships between the various sectors related to renewable resources. In turn, the European forestry sector coordinated the relationships between the industries involved in the landscaping planning system.
Two groups of countries took the lead in entering the phase of multifunctional utilization. One group consisted of the developed countries with high per capita income, while the other group comprised of developing countries with serious ecological problems but attached great importance to ecological development. A study by forestry economists in the West has shown that when the average per capita income of Europeans reached US$8,000, their demand for a higher quality of life and an ecological environment was apparently higher so that the forestry sector had to switch its focus to ecological development. In this period, great changes took place in the private forests, which made up a large part of European and American forestry (46% in Germany, 73.6% in France, 61% in Finland), reflected in structural changes not only in the ownership of forests, but also in the objectives of forest management. For instance, according to the 1999 statistics, among the private forest owners in Finland, only 19% were forest farmers while 81% had switched to other walks of life. In Germany, 83% of forest owners were no longer forest farmers.
The establishment of multifunctional forestry in the Western countries was also based on the large-scale ecological projects and afforestation campaigns in the earlier period of restoration and development of forestry—for example, the Roosevelt Project in the United States, the large-scale afforestation after World War II in France, and so forth. From 1947 to 1992, the National Forestry Fund of France planted 2.16 million hectares of forests, including buying private land and building coastal shelterbelt forests, elevating the forest cover of the country from a dozen percentage points to 28%, thus realizing an orderly distribution of forests and laying the foundation for multifunctional forestry. At present, the great majority of the industrialized countries are at this stage with increased forest resources. However, in this period, the problem of coordination between the social economy and ecology has cropped up, particularly the relationship between timber production and ecological goals.
188.8.131.52 The phase of sustainable development
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) explicitly focused on the issue of sustainable development and elevated the status of forestry, the main component of ecology, to an unprecedented high level. The conference suggested that various countries should formulate their National Forestry Program (NFP) and implement sustainable development plans. The theme of the Eleventh World Forestry Congress in 1997 was “Forestry for sustainable development: towards the twenty-first century.” The Congress emphasized that various types of forests not only provide the world with important social, economic, and environmental products or services, but also make major contributions to ensuring food supply, purifying water and air, and protecting the soil. The crux of realizing sustainable development lay in the proper management of forestry. The Congress warned that the forests in numerous regions of the world were quickly depleting and degenerating. It also stressed that if this trend in the world was to be reversed and sustainable development achieved, it would need more vigorous government intervention at the highest levels. It may be said that the Congress has identified new directions for the development of forestry in the 21st century.
To push forward the process, the international community organized regional assessment systems for sustainable management, established pilot areas for sustainable forest management, and supported multifunctional forestry. The introduction of Germany's National Forestry Programme pointed out that the program was a social and policy dialogue to promote the sustainable management of forestry within the 1999–2000 sustainable development framework plan. This indicates that the developed countries in Europe have already begun to implement the task of sustainable development. The Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) has expeditiously set up a sustainable development committee to offer guidance to various countries in formulating development plans and operational standards for sustainable forestry development. This is to say that a basic common understanding in international activities is pushing forestry to a new level.
In realizing multifunctional forestry for more than fifty years, the developed countries have gradually adjusted the distribution of forests to form a rational structure for the future. The question of how to ensure that it will not degenerate in structure and function—that is, how to protect the long-term stability of the forestry ecosystem—has already become the central issue in the phase of sustainable development. Qualitative changes have taken place in the theory, method, and technique of forest management, such as the “ecosystem management of forestry” advanced by the United States, and the “close-to-nature management” proposed by Germany after abandoning the normal forest concept.
The phase of sustainable development is the highest state in international forestry. It not only attaches importance to and meets the demand for social and ecological benefits, but also applies the concept and method of ecosystem management in product management, in accordance with the laws of the ecology.
Synthesizing the analysis of the different phases, the differences between the three phases traversed by the process of international forestry in the 20th century may be summarized in Table 3.3.
It is necessary to point out that the five phases described above are a scientific synthesis of the history of forestry development in the world. The majority of countries are at divergent phases because of differences in their development process. At present, only a small number of developed countries are at the stage of advancing toward sustainable development guided by the theory on sustainable development. The following are some examples.
1. Finland. Finland boasts an abundance of forests, and has a good ecological environment. The major programs that the country implemented during different periods reflected the different phases of
|Table 3.3 Differences among three phases of international forestry in the 20th century|
|Phase||Objectives of management||Measures of management||Core issues||Distribution mode|
|Restoration & development of forestry||Timber products||Normal forest management||Age structure of forest; maximum net revenue from forestland||Distribution by market|
|Multi-functional utilization||Products, ecology, services||Management by category of forestry||Spatial structure of forest; heavy comprehensive effects||Distribution by market and planning|
|Sustainable development||Coordination of three benefits & sustainability||Ecosystem management||Sound and stable forestry ecosystem; greater sustainability||Distribution by plan, market, and community|
forestry development. These programs covered the elevation of forest cultivation, improvement of forest quality, multifunctional utilization, and the stability and sustainability of the forest ecosystem. According to data released by the Finnish Forest Association in 2002, 95% of the forests in Finland, which adopted forestry as the main industry of the country and whose export of forest products amounted to 27% of its total export volume, had passed the State's certification for sustainable management.
2. Germany. In the 1990s, Germany began implementing a new policy of close-to-nature forestry and, in accordance with the theory on the sustainable management of forestry, studied and formulated the strategy of sustainable development which promoted close-to-nature forestry, thus taking Germany into a new phase of ecological development. German forestry emphasized the preservation of biodiversity, and the productive nature and renewability of forests as the principles of management. The objective of its forestry development was to preserve and increase as much as possible the acreage of forests and integrate them with nature. Their ecological and economic benefits should also be maximized. The forestry policy stressed the protection of ecological benefits as its main aim, while timber production was subordinate to the coordinated development of forestry for multiple benefits.
3. The United States. In 1990, the USDA Forestry Service formulated A Strategic Plan for the 90's: Working Together for Rural America. The main aim of the plan was the realization of the economic, ecological, and social benefits of forests—that is, to develop forestry not only to produce timber and other forest products in a sustainable manner, but also to generate multiple benefits such as protecting biodiversity and improving the ecological environment. In 1994, the USDA Forestry Service advanced the concept of improving and implementing forest ecosystem management, identifying forestry ecosystem management as the principal goal of forest management, and advocating that public land should be divided into areas for management according to their utilization. Forestry ecological management was to coordinate the natural environment with the multiple requirements of mankind, with timber production no longer being the main objective of forest management.
4. Canada. In 1992, Canada formulated the National Forest Strategy (1992–97) which marked a major change in the orientation of forest management—that is, from the goal of preserving the competitive edge of forest products in the international market to that of meeting the requirements for timber and social benefits, as well as preserving a diversified forestry ecosystem. In 1998, Canada formulated the National Forest Strategy (1998–2003), drawing up a new framework and principles for formulating forestry policy and an action plan in the new century. The objective of this strategy was to maintain, elevate, and facilitate a stable forestry ecosystem in the long-term and provide environmental, economic, social, and cultural services in the interest of the country, the world, and future generations.
5. Japan. After much reflection on forest management practices in the past, Japan released the Fundamental Principle for Forestry Policy Reform at the end of 2000. The main points of the plan were to change the past policy orientation aimed at expanding timber production to achieving the multiple functions of forestry in a sustainable manner and realize “sustainable forest management”—in other words, integrating forestry with the ecosystem, coordinating the protection and utilization of forestry, and meeting the multiple requirements of the population in a sustained manner. In this way, the main aim of forest management was changed from an emphasis on timber production to focusing on its public-welfare functions.
The global trend toward sustainable development in the international forestry process is a reflection of the direction of forestry in the new century. Emphasis will be given to pursuing the goal of a holistic environment, attaching importance to improving the ecological environment. Whether it is because of the need to follow international practice, or because of a sense of responsibility as a big power, China must adapt itself to the way of world forestry development and follow the trend toward strengthening the ecological environment. It must steadfastly give priority to ecological development so that its forestry industry can enter into the new phase of sustainable development at an early date.
The phases of forestry development have been the products of history. Each of the phases in the past had social, economic, and political environments suited to them, and traditional forestry practices could not overcome the constraints imposed by the prevailing economic and social environment. A correct understanding of this point is important to recognize how the characteristics of the different phases of forestry development may vary. Forestry is also a product of social development. The phases of forestry development cannot proceed mechanically along the same lines and in the same mode. In different countries and regions and in particular periods of social development, forestry development took on the characteristics of different phases interwoven together, with a blurred demarcation between the phases. This point is of significance in understanding the phases of forestry development.
The requirements of situations determine the tasks that need to be done and the stages of the process. The rapid pace of social and economic growth impelled by China's reform and opening up to the outside world, as well as the critical situation facing the Chinese people with regard to the eco-environment have raised higher and completely new standards for forestry. Apparently, a traditional and conventional development program cannot satisfy such requirements. Conditions have changed, and a slower process may impede the growth of the economy and society. Therefore, developing forestry in a most efficient and rapid way is essential based upon this premise—that is, with completely new ideas of development and linking it with the process of social development. It will be a path of development with Chinese characteristics based on a general theoretical platform of development.
3.2.1 Political Responsibility
The Communist Party of China (CPC) must always be aware of the requirements for the development of China's productive forces, take the lead in developing an advanced culture, and represent the fundamental interests of the majority of the people in China. Therefore, it is important to keep pace with the times and blaze new trails in a pioneering spirit. In working out the development strategy for the economy and society, it is important to have a sense of political responsibility for the present age, for the nation, and for future generations, and carry out the tasks in a concrete manner.
Being responsible for the present age determines that China must persist in pushing forward development and resolve various problems encountered in the process. Meanwhile, China cannot be separated from the mainstream of development in the world. Thus, it is important to handle appropriately relationships among the population, resources, and the environment, and carry out this basic state policy conscientously.
Being responsible for the Chinese nation determines that it is important to ensure effective space for the nation to survive, develop and multiply. China is the most populous country in the world. A degraded eco-environment has resulted in the expansion of desert, soil erosion, and natural disasters. The loss of soil has become the most serious threat to land security other than suffering from foreign invasions for territory. Hence, vigorously improving the eco-environment and maintaining the eco-balance are fundamental measures to ensure the long-term survival and development of the Chinese nation.
Being responsible for future generations means that it is important to choose a sustainable development course. A sound eco-environment is the key to sustainable development. It is clear that forests are the dominant component of the ecosystem. In carrying out a sustainable development strategy, it is imperative to give forestry an important place, especially in constructing the eco-environment.
The eco-environment does not only affect the economy, but also the social and political spheres. Improving the eco-environment is, thus, an inescapable responsibility for the country. However, there is a distinctive gap between the present status of China's forestry and the requirements for eco-development. The only way out is to pursue striding development of forestry—that is, to step over a certain phase in order to accelerate the development process to achieve the objectives required for the advancement of society.
3.2.2 Essential Requirements for Striding Development
With the experience of history, the whole society is now well aware of the functions of forestry. The importance attached by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council to, and the great concern of the whole society for, forestry and the eco-environment have brought about numerous opportunities. At this crucial juncture, the CPC leadership, taking an overall perspective, has formulated a strategy to step up the development of the eco-environment. A series of important decisions for eco-environment and forestry development have been worked out and multiple arrangements made. In August 1997, Jiang Zemin in a long-written message, called for “rebuilding a northwestern region with beautiful mountains and rivers.” The Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC made it one of China's objectives to build a well-rounded and affluent society. “The capability of sustainable development will be steadily enhanced. The ecological environment will be improved. The efficiency of using resources will be increased significantly. We will enhance the harmony between man and nature to push the whole society onto a path leading to civilized development featuring the growth of production, an affluent life and a sound ecosystem.” The establishment of this strategic objective— restoring the beautiful hills and mountains of China—makes forestry a special component in the overall plan of social development and modernization. The whole society and nation understand fully the significance of accelerating the development of the eco-environment and forestry.
3.2.3 Accumulation of Rich Experiences for Accelerating Forestry
The process of forestry development in China has been a long quest. Over the past half century, especially in the last twenty years of reform and opening up to the outside world, rich experience has been accumulated in eco-environmental development. In taking afforestation and improving the eco-environment as the central tasks, the emphasis was given to the dominant position of forestry in the national economy. Other experiences include following the policy to achieve the “Three Benefits” and constructing the “Two Systems” in forestry; taking the eco-project as a major task and driving it forward; mobilizing the whole CPC and the entire population to be involved in the campaign of afforestation; establishing the responsibility system for government officers at all levels to protect and develop forest resources according to their given objectives; working out a long-term steady input mechanism in order to create a favorable environment for the sustainable and rapid development of forestry; regulating forestry with laws and improving forestry through science and education; protecting forest resources and ensuring a healthy and sustainable development of forestry. All these experiences have contributed to the development process of forestry with Chinese characteristics.
3.2.4 National Economic Strength as a Solid Foundation
The development of the eco-environment depends greatly on the support of national finance. China's improved national economic strength has enhanced the financial support to forestry. Over the past twenty years, China's impressive economic growth has laid a solid foundation for more investments on major eco-environmental developments. In particular, the successful economic restructuring in the rural areas and the progress in agricultural science and technology have greatly improved agricultural production. Grain output has been excessive periodically, regionally, and structurally. This has provided valuable opportunities for the transition from agriculture to forestry. In recent years, the government has attached great importance to the protection of the eco-environment, made strategic adjustments to the economic structure, and increased to a large extent the financial input to forestry for the establishment of eco-projects supported by the State or local authorities. In about ten years, the national investment is expected to reach hundreds of billion yuan for “the six key programs,” which is unprecedented in history.
Meanwhile, the establishment and nurturing of a market economy has helped to channel commercial capital into forestry. With a socialist market economy, an ownership structure dominated by public ownership but with private ownership as well, is taking shape. The State has adopted more favorable policies to protect and support forestry, through macro-regulation and enlivening all elements of the forestry market. It instituted the policy of “who plants, who possesses” and “who invests, who gets benefits” in forestry. In the forestry industry and commercial forests, social investments are encouraged and drawn from enterprises, organizations, foreign funds, and individuals. Hence, there has been an explicit trend in encouraging commercial capital to flow to forest production and eco-environmental development. The market mechanism is becoming a distinctive driving force in a wider forestry economy, which injects much energy for the development of forestry in the new century.
3.2.5 National Strategy for Social and Economic Development
The proposal and implementation of the strategy for developing the western region of China will extend the areas under forestry, optimize the distribution of forest resources, and promote the balanced development of national forestry. China's western region covers an area of 5.4 million square kilometers. It has a fragile eco-environment, with soil erosion accounting for 68% of the region because of the low ratio of forest coverage, and serious desertification. About 70% of China's desert land lies in the western region. The country has 12.67 million hectares of sloping fields, 70% of which is in this region. The strategy to develop the western region and to speed up the development of the midwestern region are significant policy decisions made by the Central Committee of the CPC. Accelerating eco-environmental development in the western region will greatly improve the habitat for wildlife, expand the living space of the Chinese people, create good conditions for production and investment in the region, promote better distribution of the products of agriculture, and enable economic restructuring in the region. It is a policy aimed at tackling the root of the problems of soil erosion and flood disasters in the areas around the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. In eco-environmental developments, large-scale tree planting, returning farmland to forests, and protection of natural forest resources are the key means to prevent soil erosion and improve the eco-environment. These will be the major tasks in the western region.
3.2.6 China's Forestry in the New Century
In the 21st century, seeking a balance between the environment and development to realize sustainable growth has become the main focus, and the attention given to forestry has become a worldwide phenomenon. This has created an opportunity for promoting the eco-environment of China through its forestry industry. With the continuous decline of forests, global warming, air pollution, soil erosion, desertification, and extinction of various species, problems related to the eco-environment have risen prominently, and become a concern of the international community. It is a major issue that affects the politics and economy of each country. Concerned about the global environment and its impact on development, the international community has started to formulate legally-binding international forest conventions, and promote dialogues on forestry policies. It has been universally acknowledged that sustainable management of forests is crucial and this has been taken as an important principle to formulate policies on forestry by the international community and all governments. China is not only an acceding state to the Montreal Process, the International Tropical Timber Agreement, and others, but also a signatory to the CITES, the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The legally-binding international conventions, agreements, protocols, and organizations related to forestry will promote China's public participation and enhance its capability in forestry research, forest protection, desert control, plantation development, and international trade. Pushing forward the proper management of forests and achieving sustainable development through measures appropriate to local circumstances will also be conducive to attracting more international capital and technology transfer. All these may give impetus to China's development of forestry.
Achieving a leap in development of China's forestry is a necessity because of significant events in its history. Under given circumstances, it is inevitable that the process of development must be shortened to catch up with the developed countries. Yet it is fortuitous for China to embark on striding development of forestry at this time.
For more than twenty years, China has been engaged in reforms and opening up to the outside world so as to promote the progress of society. On one hand, it has devoted itself to economic restructuring in order to effectively impel the development of productive forces. On the other hand, it has been trying to find a path of development for industrialization and modernization that is compatible with local conditions. Tremendous success has been achieved in China's reform. In the past two decades or more, China's economic system has been gradually transformed from the old planned economy to a socialist market economy, and from a closed or semi-closed status to an omnidirectional, multilevel, and broad-ranged open policy. Reform and the opening up of the country have completely changed the traditional rigid economic system, with the result that the outlook of the people has changed drastically. The Chinese economy has grown rapidly, with its GDP in the 1978–2000 period going up by 9.52% on average, one of the fastest in the world. Economic development has gradually lifted the people out of poverty and backwardness. With the removal of “bottlenecks” in limited supply that stemmed economic growth for a long time, the period of “gross shortage in supply” is over. It has gained economic vitality and overall strength, and life in urban and rural areas has improved remarkably.
Unfortunately, eco-environmental problems have escalated at an unprecedented rate and scale simultaneously with the rapid progress of the economy. China started to develop from a low base but with great ambition, which had been suppressed by the long-term restrictions of a planned economy and repeated political campaigns. The reform and opening up policies gave room for the people's aspirations to be met, and with renewed energy, development has surged forward.
The damaged ecology and poor state of the environment resulted, to a great extent, from irrational exploitation. For thousands of years, China followed the old mode of production, and with a growing population, development depended more and more on its natural resources. Sweeping expansions of land and continuous damage alternated with wars and demands for improvement in standards of living. In many areas, the excessive exploitation of land for cultivation and pasture caused serious degradation of forests, grasslands, cropland, and even soil erosion and desertification. These old practices left the country not only in economic shambles, but also caused serious damage to the natural environment.
After the foundation of the PRC, the CPC and the government laid great stress on improving agricultural conditions. They did a great deal of work to promote agriculture and to improve the local eco-environment, such as constructing suitable structures for crop-fields, embarking on water conservancy projects, soil improvement and water control, afforestation, and cultivating grasslands. However, the excessive exploitation of resources in the past, the accumulated problems of the eco-environment over the long term, the lack of awareness on environmental protection, and serious mistakes in decision-making relating to politics, the economy, and the population resulted in pillages to the eco-environment. Meanwhile, the planned economic system had also restrained agricultural development to a great extent so that land became widely unproductive; grain production increased as land for agriculture expanded along with the demands of the economy and society. After the reforms, the eco-environment in the countryside was left in a bad state. Management by contract, on one hand, injected energy into rural productivity for development, but on the other hand, its short-term performance brought about eco-environmental crises. In areas where the economy was relatively backward and the eco-environment weak, poverty, old methods of production, defective systems of land use, and imperfections of policies, interacting with one another, furthered the deterioration of the eco-environment. These factors became a third attack upon the eco-environment, which rendered extensive and serious consequences.
China's eco-environment stands upon a weak base, inherently deficient and unfavorable. Man adds to the imbalance, degradation, and pollution. Partial improvement is coupled with overall deterioration; and control behind destruction, with environmental quality getting worse and worse. The development of the economy hinges on the natural environment and resources. Today's eco-environment has been molded by history, and in a certain sense, may greatly affect the future economy. China is now under the heavy pressures of a large population and unprecedented eco-environmental problems. It is confronted with double tragedies in history: the worst destruction of the ecology and the most serious pollution in the environment. If no drastic measures are taken to harness them the eco-environment in China will continue to deteriorate.
The capabilities and conditions to solve these problems are inconsistent with the extent of eco-environmental deterioration, and it would take a long time to restore it to acceptable levels. This has always been a complex subject in China's eco-development. For rapid economic progress, the most important task in the initial phase was to lift people out of poverty and improve their lives. It is difficult to make a choice between economic development and environmental protection. Even if the importance of the eco-environment and its impact on the future is recognized, it is still difficult to counter the forces of change. On one hand, it is necessary to take the road to extensive economic growth which is of utmost importance to social development. On the other hand, the positive and negative effects of development tend to exist at the same time, which may lead to the neglect of some important issues. The problems of the eco-environment are also characterized by invisibility, gradualism, and accumulation, with indirect, overall, and abrupt consequences. In pace with the enhancing of productivity, when eco-environmental problems become more serious and are realized by the people, they might possibly have developed into serious crises. This is the cost of development.
Every country has experienced the process of “damaging first, controlling later” or “damaging while controlling” in industrialization and eco-environmental control, and the quality of the eco-environment matches its corresponding phase. If attempts are made to prevent the environment from deteriorating further, it is inevitable that the threshold of development will be crossed, and another threshold of vast investment in environment protection will be met. For instance, when the United States launched the campaign against environmental pollution, the per capita GNP (gross national product) was US$11,000; for Japan it was lower, but still over US$4,000. China's per capita GNP was only US$760 in 2000. If the experience of the developed countries is applied to China, it will encounter many difficulties to cross these thresholds and proceed toward rapid development and control in a short period. Solving eco-environmental problems is thus a complicated and arduous process, and it will take a long time to restore the natural ecology. It is precisely for this reason that China cannot impel development in the usual way to contain the deteriorating eco-environment and attain its objectives.
China is now facing the dilemma between the need for conserving the environment and pushing forward development. It has to utilize the experience of the Western countries as a reference to formulate suitable strategies for development; however, there are no ready-made answers. To catch up with the West and surpass them, it is imperative for China to find an effective way to reach its goals. It is necessary to quicken the pace of development and impel the society forward. At the same time, restraining the “rudimentary misconducts” in development is critical to avoid self-destruction in the transition from a planned economy to a market economy system. Under such special circumstances, China must catch up with the rapid pace of science and technology development lest it be left behind. At the same time, it must protect itself in the international “jungle.” Such a paradox may mean that China must blaze a new trail with Chinese conditions and characteristics of development. Since there is no ready-made course available, the failure to find a new path may mean facing a dead end.
3.3.1 Finding Solutions to Problems
Frequently, a special event becomes a pivot in changing the course of history. A major historic change depends on two fundamental conditions:
1. There must be a historic event, which could affect the overall situation and cause the outburst of long-accumulated contradictions between the eco-environment and social demands ;
2. After considering the main interests of the society and its demands, it is necessary to make strategic decisions that reflect the social will.
These two essential conditions emerged at the end of the 20th century.
The last few years of the 20th century witnessed three calamities affecting the eco-environment which shook the whole of China: the drying up of the Yellow River in 1997, lasting as long as 226 days in the year; the flood disasters caused by the Yangtze River and the Songhuajiang River in 1998; and the unprecedented sandstorms spreading to Beijing and other areas in 2000. These major events marked the approach of a new period in the history of the Chinese eco-environment: the accumulated consequences resulting from eco-environmental damage, long silent and far from the central cities, finally shook the whole country in the form of these crises, causing the whole society to pay unprecedented attention and importance to forestry, which has now been given top priority in eco-environmental development.
These misfortunes also drew global attention. They were eco-environmental events in which the whole society was affected to the greatest extent since the founding of the PRC. They attracted the attention of the entire people, from the highest decision-makers of the State to naive children. The rolling Yangtze River and the brutal sandstorms touched the chord of 1.3 billion people. Modern media presented the most realististic, striking and heart-moving scenes: State leaders at the forefront of flood-combating; soldiers standing firm in midstream against floods; people forming a great wall in flood-resistance. People had never directly faced such natural diasasters in this way. Horror and confidence, grief and joy, and worry and expectation were juxtaposed in the struggle against nature.
Abnormal weather resulted in serious floods along the Yangtze River, Songhuajiang River, Pearl River, and Mingjiang River. The floods of the Yangtze River, only next in severity to those of 1954, were the second largest catastrophic floods of the whole valley in the 20th century, peaking eight times and lasting over two months. The flood peaks rose successively higher and broke defense dikes, with the fourth, fifth, and sixth peaks being the most serious, rendering the long dikes in an extremely precarious situation. The Songhuajiang floods were the first catastrophy of the 20th century. The dikes on the Nenjiang River were incapable of providing an effective defense. Six sections of the dikes broke and the plains and low-lying lands became a vast expanse of water despite the all-out endeavor of the military and civilians. In the Daqing oil fields, people made urgent repairs to three dikes one after another to ensure the production of oil. Moreover, the western part of the Pearl River Valley experienced the second most serious floods of the 20th century while the Min River in Fujian Province suffered from the worst catastrophic flood of the century. All at once floods devastated the northern and southern regions of China. A nationwide campaign against floods became intense. According to statistics, officers and the masses participated in combating the floods and rescuing about 8 million people at the crucial time in August, unprecedented in history. During the flood season, as many as 362,000 members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force were mobilized to combat the floods and go to the rescue in the Yangtze and Songhuajiang valleys: 110 generals went to the forefront and over 5,000 division officers were deployed to the crises areas, as if in a massive war. That year, the total value of materials used for rescue work from all parts of the country amounted to 13 billion yuan. Donations from all areas reached 3.5 billion yuan and materials and goods contributed amounted to 3.7 billion yuan. About 1,335 large and medium reservoirs were used to stem flood peaks, involving as much as 53.2 billion cubic meters of water. Only one section of the main dike at Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province broke down, but it was plugged up effectively. Yet the economic loss was tremendous. The affected crop-fields totaled 22.3 million hectares in the whole country, of which the afflicted areas covered 13.8 million hectares. About 6.85 million houses collapsed and 4,150 people lost their lives. Direct loss amounted to 255.1 billion yuan, representing 3% of GNP.
Only after the disasters did people begin to reflect on the problems rationally. Worry and horror, regret and expectation began to overwhelm the people. The whole society started for the first time in the history of China's development to discuss widely and deeply the problems of these eco-calamities, especially the perniciousness and causes of the floods of 1998 and the sandstorms. This stirred a simple and earnest aspiration: to put an end to the spoiling of the eco-environment and to reafforest the earth, make rivers clear, and the sky blue again.
Each triumph over crises contributes to the wisdom of the Chinese nation. The whole society became soberly aware that floods and sandstorms could cause much misfortune to the Chinese people, posing threats to at least half the population of China and one-third of crop-fields. The cause lies in the destruction of the eco-environment. Extensive discussions and reflection of experiences over the last 5,000 years were conducted to bring forth ideas and thoughts for development. The problems of the eco-environment involves national policy, as it impacts on the long-term interests of the whole nation. This has become the consensus of the entire Chinese people.
3.3.2 Adopting Strategies for Survival and Development
The leaders of the CPC and the State Council, responsible for the future of the nation and national development, have pointed to the importance of enhancing eco-development.
When inspecting Beijing in 1995, Jiang Zemin pointed out: “Afforestation, afforesting the country and improving the eco-environment are issues of vital importance that will benefit the country and people now, as well as the generations to come. Afforestation is significant for environment protection, water and soil conservation, and the promotion of economic development. In my recent investigations in Jiangxi and Hunan, I found numerous officers and masses attaching great importance to afforestation. This is gratifying and encouraging. It is crucial to mobilize the whole CPC and the entire people to persist in afforestation and turn it into a common practice.”
In 1997, he wrote a long commentary entitled: “An Investigation Report on the Control of Soil-Erosion in Northern Shaanxi and the Development of Eco-agriculture,” submitted by Jiang Chunyun. He wrote:
Ours is an ancient civilized country with a history of several thousand years. The Yellow River Valley, including Gansu and Shaanxi, is the birthplace of the Chinese nation. It had been the location of the capital of 13 dynasties including the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties in Shaanxi. For a long period in ancient history, the northwestern region including Shaanxi and Gansu were rich and prosperous areas with fine vegetation. The “mountains, forests, rivers and valleys were beautiful, and natural resources and benefits were abundant”—this was used to describe the natural conditions of Shaanxi. In his “Zi Zhi Tong Jian,” Shima Guang depicts the prosperous scenes of the flourishing Tang Dynasty in Shaanxi and Gansu as “districts densely populated, with the best cultivated crops, and the most prosperous place was none other than Longyou.” Unfortunately, subsequent wars, denudations and natural calamities resulted in serious desertification and desert lands in the northwestern region, including Shaanxi and Gansu, which seriously restricted the development of the economy and culture.
The harsh eco-environment left by history should be fundamentally changed in the following ways: giving emphasis to the superiority of the socialist system; developing the spirit of pioneering an enterprise with painstaking efforts; working as one and devoting major efforts to afforestation; foresting desert lands and developing eco-agriculture. After generations of successive endeavors, the goal of rebuilding a northwestern region with beautiful mountains and rivers will be accomplished.
Participating in tree-planting in Beijing in 1999, Jiang Zemin pointed out: “Afforestation is an important undertaking that concerns all generations of the Chinese nation.”
Zhu Rongji, in interviewing a national model worker Ma Yongshun as he investigated the flooded areas of Northeast China in 1998, pointed out that in accordance with the instruction of Jiang Zemin of the Central Committee of the CPC, the State Council decided to prohibit forest-cutting and felling in the forest areas of the upper reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, and to close hillsides to facilitate afforestation. In the northeast forest areas there should be a gradual decrease, then prohibition of felling. Lumberers must become planters, and turn their chainsaws into spades for planting trees. However, the adjustment of changes in production and the diversion of and transition of laborers in forest enterprises must be well arranged. A start should be made to diversify the economy in the forest regions and explore new productive ways to ensure the basic necessity of the workers and staff, and improve their life gradually. The State must change the economic structure and invest more in forestry. The Ministry of Finance of the PRC must increase the budget by 6 billion yuan. Local governments and forest enterprises must rely on themselves and work hard for the benefit of future generations.
China is the most populous country in the world, but it has limited forest resources left. Therefore, these resources should be valued highly, keeping in mind the future generations. Planting trees is the responsibility of everyone. The people must learn from Ma Yongshun's example: keep planting till the end of life. Causing denudation is a criminal act which deserves condemnation and legal punishment. As long as efforts are made, there will be hills and clear rivers in the country, which will be the most precious legacy for future generations.
3.3.3 View of Experts
Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and other well-known academics, as well as experts are researching into the major problems of China's eco-environmental development from the different aspects of nature, the economy, and social development.
Shen Guofang, an academician and Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, wrote in his book, Reflections on Afforestation: “The historic burden is heavy for the Chinese people to carry. If the eco-environment continues to get worse like this, if consuming and spoiling the resources continue, there will be no standing room for our descendants; even the development of the present generation would be seriously restrained. Now it is high time to make urgent appeals!”
Lu Liangshu, another academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, points out: “the serious lesson from the catastrophic floods teaches us that it is not only necessary but also most pressing to control soil erosion. It involves not only the improvement of agriculture and the eco-environment of the valleys, but also the social and economic problems of overall forest coverage. To harness soil erosion is not only an effective way to lift the people in the upper mountain areas out of poverty; it has also become a program to control rivers, prevent floods and disasters, which is related to the national economy and the people's livelihood.”
Li Wenhua, still another academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, says that although scientific research has been done on vast differences in climate phenomena and natural geological processes, an effective way or means to intervene has not yet been found. However, he suggests that the runoff from precipitation can be stored locally, to slow the discharge, and rechannelled into the rivers, lakes, and designated flood diversion areas to prevent or lessen disasters.
Guan Junwei, an octogenarian academician at the same institution with long experience and wisdom, wrote: “Since the founding of the PRC, with the catastrophic flood in 1954 taken into consideration, we have experienced three catastrophies within forty-four years (1954, 1981, and 1998). Shouldn't we pay more attention to and think deeply about them? If we start right now, with the current economic strength and knowledge in science and technology, we can contain the deterioration of the eco-environment and put it on the correct course. By lessening the damage gradually and controlling the Yangtze River permanently, we can ensure the constant supply of regenerative sweet water resources and the sustainable development of our country.”
3.3.4 View of the People
Having experienced the tribulations and disasters arising from eco-destruction, the people cry out for the improvement of the environment to protect their homes.
184.108.40.206 The hope of the Hugou people
In his article “Revenge of the Forest,” a journalist of the Economic Daily, described the unusual eco-disasters in Hugou village, Simenzi town, Fengcheng City, Liaoning Province, and their feelings after the disasters:
A rare storm in a century attacked Simenzi town, Fengcheng City. Hugou was the most seriously flooded village. The rains brought about tremendous loss of life and property: three people lost their lives, over twenty were injured, more than 1,000 domestic animals died, sixty houses, warehouses and cowsheds, pigsties, and sheepfolds, as well as a primary school were ruined by mud-rock flow. There were twenty-two households in the village, of which nineteen lost all their property, and hundreds of people were rendered homeless, penniless, and landless. More than 30,000 kilograms of grain were destroyed by the flood.
In the past, Hugou village was beautiful with a natural environment and rich in forest resources, covering as much as 6,667 hectares, with per capita forestland reaching 47–53.3 hectares. At that time, a sea of forests stretched to the horizon, with vegetation being lush, and these brought the Hugou people immeasurable pleasure and wealth. Nevertheless, after many years of continuous denudation in Hugou, tree-felling far exceeded the growing rate. By the 1980s when limited felling was imposed, the forest on the hills had become extremely sparse, and the nearby hills bare and deserted. Hugou, a village that had possessed over 6,667 hectares of natural forests, was left with less than 133.3 hectares in the nineties.
The flood has seriously damaged or even depleted the natural and ecological environment of Hugou. The villagers are now not in a position to rebuild their homes on the original location. It has been calculated by someone from the local government that to restore all the resources of Hugou to its state before the flooding will take at least seven years. The task of rebuilding their former land with lush forests may be an endless and difficult one for those who have experienced the natural disasters. But then, did those who possessed the homes and forests ever treasured them, on which they depended for their living? Gone is the village, where people could hear tigers roaring in the past. It has disappeared from the domain of Fengcheng City forever.
When gathering information, the journalist came across twelve Hugou villagers who had moved to other villages. They said that they often return to Hugou. Though it is only debris at present, there remains hope in the Hugou people.
220.127.116.11 Tale of an eco-migrant
This happened in an eco-migration area at the edge of the Hunshandake Desert, Inner Mongolia. Behind the new house of migrant Gala, wind swept over the Sunite Grass Ground, with sand flying about and dust hurtling through the air, forming a turbid mess with visibility of less than 50 meters. Walls of red bricks around the yard, as tall as a man in height, were covered with drift sand, and in the room everything was covered with a layer of fine dust or grass roots. Gala told the journalist: “Since February 2 (the Chinese lunar year), the wind has been blowing hard till now. Within a single night, sand accumulated as thick as over 50 centimeters in the silage cellar of the yard. The first thing I have to do after getting up is to carry sand out from the courtyard to get straw for the sheep. It takes three people about three hours to clear the sand. Then, I have to shake my sheep, each weighing about 3.5–4 kilograms, to get rid of the sand from their bodies; otherwise they cannot stand up,” and “if the sandstorm keeps blowing in this way, I can hardly raise the few left.”
18.104.22.168 Call of the children
Children are always very naive. To make their homeland more beautiful, they have called for a “greening” of the earth. The following shows the hope they have of bringing the green back to the earth:
Spring is approaching, bringing us the revival of nature and thriving of prosperity. It is the best season for afforestation. My classmates, do you know what we plant trees for?
In nature, man, biology, the climate, soil and water exist harmoniously, depending on each other in a complex way. In our body, all organs and their functions always maintain a balance. Once a certain link breaks off, one will fall ill, so does the natural world. If eco-imbalance happens, there will be all sorts of harmful consequences.
The forest is a guard for the eco-balance. With forest the earth can withstand the wind and rain, and water and soil will not be easily washed away; shelterbelts can keep off or slow down wind; rainfall can run along tree trunks slowly down to the earth, blocked by dead branches or leaves, grassroots or barks, and infiltrate the soil instead of flowing away quickly. In dry season, some water conserved under the ground will well out into streams, flowing out of the forest to irrigate crop farms; and some, being absorbed through roots, evaporate into the air from leaves. After forming rain, it falls back to the earth again. Thus, the forest keeps the climate calm and normal.
My dear classmates, please stretch out our hands to plant trees together and advocate afforestation. Let our earth become still greener.
22.214.171.124 The 31st Earth Day
The Beijing residents celebrated the first Earth Day of the new century in a unique way. On that day, 2,008 green balloons rose up to the sky from Beijing Oriental Plaza, representing the 2008 Olympic Games. More than 200 bicycle riders, wearing uniforms printed with the words “Green Olympics” set out with that dream. Liao Xiaoyi, founder of Earth Village in Beijing, presented the earth a special gift of a “Suite of Songs to Earth Village.” Twenty “Green Angels” born on April 22 reminded people with their delicate songs that “today is Earth Day, people's thanksgiving day; today is Earth Day, people's Shrovetide; today is Earth Day, people's planting day; today is Earth Day, our common birthday.”
3.3.5 Reaching Consensus
After the catastrophic floods of 1998, the State Council issued An Urgent Advice on the Protection of Forest Resources and the Prohibition against Damaging the Forest for Cultivation and Occupation of Forestland. In proposing redevelopment and the permanent control of disasters after floods, “closing hillsides to facilitate afforestation” and “returning farmland to forests” were given top priority, and decisions were also made to quickly implement the natural forest protection program. The Third Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee of the CPC adopted Decisions on a Number of Major Issues Concerning Agriculture and Rural Work of the Central Committee of the CPC. It was clearly pointed out in the document that “the improvement of the eco-environment is a long-term strategy that has a bearing on the survival and development of the Chinese nation, and is also an essential measure to prevent droughts and floods. It is important to increase the coverage rate of forests and basically harness the areas that are suitable to control soil erosion.” On November 7, 1998, the State formulated the National Program for Eco-environmental Development with the objective that in about fifty years, green hills and clear rivers will be seen in China and an ecosystem meeting the basic requirements of sustainable development will be established throughout the country.
The CPC and the State, by attaching unprecedented importance to forestry, showed clearly the way forward for China to speed up the development of forestry and entrusted forestry with a historic mission and responsibility. This not only served as a powerful motive, but also brought forth a golden opportunity for developing forestry. Based on this historic opportunity, and in keeping with the requirements of the Central Government and the people of the whole country to accelerate the development of forestry and the eco-environment, the State Forestry Administration, as a functional department of the government, worked out a strategy to strengthen eco-environmental development, by reorganizing projects in forestry with the aim of achieving a leap in development. This plan was promptly approved by the highest decision-makers. The six major eco-development projects were thus incorporated into the national development program. This marked a significant juncture in the history of forestry, manifested in the execution of the natural forest protection program; the practice of returning farmland to forests; the formulation of a compensation system for external benefits of forestry; and emphasizing forestry development as a way to move the whole society forward. This four-pronged approach represented a concentrated expression of the transition from a system centered on timber production to that of eco-development, marking a new phase in forestry and a completely new course featuring the improvement of the eco-environment as the objective. The implementation of this strategy will impact greatly on China's eco-environmental development in the 21st century.
No law is unbreakable for a higher beauty.
To achieve a leap in development was the strategic task set forth at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee of the CPC and the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress. It was a historic decision to accelerate economic development based on China's current conditions.
3.4.1 Theory and Practice
Striding development is a unique phenomenon, a special mode of development at a given time and under given historic conditions, utilizing the advantages of a laggard. It is generally believed that striding development is an extraordinary mode of development adopted by economically backward countries, regions, or industries in their attempt to use the advantages of a latecomer to accelerate the process, to catch up with and even surpass the developed countries in a relatively short period of time. Some scholars say that the so-called striding development allows developing countries or regions to skip over a certain phase to catch up with the developed countries or regions. This mode features the use of technology to enable a country to side-step a phase to allow industries to advance rapidly and renew and remold traditional enterprises. This approach stresses the contributions of science and technology to development—that is, pushing industries forward by means of science and technology for economic growth.
Striding development is a “privilege” of backward countries. This is because only these countries have the “advantages of a latecomer.”
“Advantages of a latecomer” are created by the status of the backward countries, regions or industries. Under certain circumstances, they can be converted to special advantages for development.
1. Backward countries have the advantage of making choices—that is, they can make favorable decisions by comparing the development models of the advanced countries and make rational analyses and choices. This will not only save much time, but also minimize the risks and cost of development.
2. The backward countries have the advantage of effectively using the achievements of the advanced, such as their technology, equipment, and successful experiences, to speed up their own development and narrow the gap between the two groups.
3. The backward countries have the advantage that backwardness can ignite innovative ideas from the people, which can promptly attract the resources of the whole society into the development process.
4. The backward countries have the advantage of learning from the advanced countries, especially through the introduction and absorption of foreign management experiences and innovations. It can not only effectively shorten the distance between the backward and the advanced countries in technology and management, but also save much research time and cost to achieve results.
The “latecomer's advantages” consist of many elements. According to the functions of the elements, the “advantages” can be divided into five types:
- “Advantage in Resource”—stressing the advantage of resources;
- “Advantage in Opportunity”—emphasizing important opportunities at a certain development period;
- “Advantage in Innovation”—stressing the introduction of advanced technology and making innovations;
- “Advantage in Conduction”—stressing the connections between economic structures; and
- “Advantage in Intervention”—requiring the intervention of a “strong government.”
The theory of “latecomer's advantages” provides the bases of policy measures and objectives set according to productivity standards and values.
Striding development is a comparative concept. For socioeconomic development, extraordinary development cannot be measured without a comparison with regular development. A typical development course is tortuous, indefinite, and risky as the forerunners have no precedents to follow. For example, traditional industrialization was realized at the cost of pillage of resources and damage of the environment. Problems of the eco-environment had to be solved after industrialization. “Polluting first, controlling later; exploring first, protecting later; and destroying first, restoring later” were taken as the guidelines in socio-economic development.
In the history of social development, because of the different social and economic conditions, countries, regions and industries followed various development models. Since the Industrial Revolution, some countries or regions have relied on certain specific factors, such as the application of new technology, the huge input of resources, favorable policies, and support from external forces, to grow the economy and propel the society forward rapidly. The following is a typical development model.
126.96.36.199 Rapid development in the former Soviet Union and in the early years of the founding of the PRC
The major reason for rapid development in the former Soviet Union before and after World War II and the early years of the founding of the PRC was the superiority of the socialist system with the sole authority of the government, the tremendous political will, and the ability to attract support from the whole society. Rapid development of that time was achieved under a planned economic system. The system gave priority to the development of heavy industry, amidst low consumption and high accumulation by the people. The system played an immensely positive role in taking advantage of the condition of insufficient resources, by using human resources to make up the shortage of funds and technology, and saving costs from the market. This was possible because of the given historical conditions. In the face of the hostile international environment, the country had to exert its inherent advantages for development.
3.4.2 Focus on Eco-development
Forestry development in China cannot meet the demand for forests in the national economy. The gap determines that China should effect rapid development in order to narrow the distance in the shortest possible time and keep pace with increasing demands. These demands are endocentric variables of rapid development, while special demands derived from sustainable development of the world are ecogenic variables. The capability to concentrate all sorts of resources for public welfare is the systematic advantage of rapid development. The combination of these three factors under the given conditions determines the necessity to implement an extraordinary strategy for the development of forestry.
Striding development of forestry is the extraordinary strategy adopted by China to catch up with the advanced countries and to satisfy the demands of economic and social development. The essence is that, with the theory of sustainable development as a guideline, and utilizing major development projects as the main channel, and innovation in science and technology as the driving force, China will be able to close the gap with the advanced countries in forestry, to complete the historic transition from a strategy of development centered on timber production to one focused on ecological development, and to usher in a new phase of sustainable development in China's forestry as early as possible. This can be seen from three specific aspects which are discussed below.
188.8.131.52 The theory of phases
China is the largest developing country in the world. Its social-economic development requires the urgent building up of the eco-environment. This determines that China should not follow the traditional road of “damaging first, controlling later” and “damaging while controlling,” a road that most developed countries took, and the majority of developing countries are still taking. It is important for China to skip resolutely over the phase of “controlling while damaging” and enter directly into a new phase of development centered on the ecology. This is referred to as the theory of phases (see Figure 3.3).
The typical development model of forestry is generally divided into five phases:
- The earliest phase is primitive exploitation. This was practiced over a long period before the civilization of agriculture.
- The second phase is the overexploitation of timber. After the civilization of agriculture, conflicts between the exploitation and destruction of forests began to emerge, and they became more apparent with further exploitation. Entering the industrial civilization period, forests were exploited to larger scales and consumed more rapidly. Contradictions between supply and demand grew increasingly sharper; and problems relating to the eco-environment appeared gradually, to which people began to attach importance.
- The third phase is the long-term restoration of forests. In this phase, the management takes timber production as the main aim and influences people to manipulate the relationship between forest supplies and social demands, to revise continuously the connotation of supply and demand in the process of adjustment, and to complete the gradual transition from a mono-timber-centered management to a multi-purpose one. During the long phase of restoration, forest management, together with a progressing society, changing requirements and speedy developments, will go through different stages, from one where control falls behind destruction, which results in all sorts of eco-environmental problems, to the stage of stalemate, when control and destruction coexist, to that when control is more effective and containing destruction is more successful, to a more ideal stage when destruction falls behind control as a result of better practices in forestry. The final stage is when forest management is ready for the next stage of multifunctional utilization in ideas, technology, and new management.
- The fourth phase is the multifunctional utilization of forests. In this phase, the society has shifted its focus away from the singular-use of forests and begun to attach more importance to the multifunctions and the coordination of these functions, especially in relation to the eco-environment. Forest functions to protect and improve the environment are now regarded as the primary objective in forestry development. At present, most developed countries with a forestry industry are in this phase.
- The fifth phase is sustainable development. This is the most advanced phase of forest development. Sustainable management is at the core of sustainable development. The theory of sustainable management of forests refers mainly to maintaining and developing its reproductive capacity, and its regenerative capacity to ensure abundant forest resources and a healthy environment to meet the requirements of the present and future generations. Sustainable management, in a certain way or at a certain speed, is practiced to maintain the biodiversity, the productive and regenerative capacity, and the vigor of forests, and to activate the potential for self-restoration. Forest functions relating to the eco-environment, the economy and society should be protected regionally, nationally, and globally, without affecting other ecosystems.
Compared with forestry in other parts of the world, that of China on the whole is in the timber-exploitation phase. It has just left the overexploitation phase and is entering the early stage of “damaging while controlling.” This phase is characterized by much destruction
while controlling is being practiced, so that the eco-environment experiences “partial improvement but overall deterioration,” which is difficult to contain effectively. Another feature is that forestry in China is developing at a low level in the initial phase of socialist development, when peasants have to depend on forest resources for existence, industries cannot operate without them economically, and the momentum of forest destruction is still vigorous.
There may be three possible scenarios facing China's forestry.
- During the long phase of restoration, China might experience the whole course covered by the developed countries and bypass the sustainable development phase;
- Because of the lack of foresight, it continues to follow the course taken by the developed countries, but makes a sharp readjustment in the near future at much greater costs;
- In the light of the existing Chinese conditions and the international economic and political environment, it seizes opportunities and make farsighted strategic decisions to execute striding development.
Changing the traditional course of forestry depends more on the overall assessment of the development process than a breakthrough in science and technology. Under the existing circumstances, it is difficult to search scientifically for reasons why China could not execute striding development in forestry earlier. China's forestry is capable and strong enough to skip the phase of “damaging while controlling” and directly progress to the multifunctional phase guided by the theory of sustainable development.
184.108.40.206 The theory of pace
It would take China fifty years to skip from the stage of development centered on timber production to one centered on the ecosystem, but at the normal pace, it would take at least one hundred years. To shorten the process it is necessary to practice striding development (see Figure 3.4).
Striding development of forestry in China can be carried out not only in phases, but also according to unconventional methods and speed to realize the transition from traditional to modern forestry in a relatively short period of time.
At the normal pace, it would take a century or more to complete the transition from the traditional practice of concentrating on timber production to modern forestry (utilizing multipurpose management to achieve multifunctional utilization). In the process, the guiding principles and management ideas on forestry need to be deeply adjusted. In practice, special arrangements need to be made for the forest ecosystem to be rationally distributed in order to keep it healthy and to ensure the successful production of multifunctions.
Modern forest management theory reflects the diversification of social development. It guides the practice of forestry to improve it continuously together with the development of science and technology. It took more than 200 years for the theory of successive exploitation, established in Germany in the 17th century, to evolve
into the theory of multifunctional utilization—that is, the process of timber exploitation lasted several centuries.
According to some international studies, when the per capita GDP of a country reaches US$1,000, people begin to take action to improve the environment. When the GDP reaches US$4,000, the eco-environment is improved; and when it reaches US$10,000, the eco-environment is further improved. Based on China's conditions and experiences, it is clear that China cannot follow the path of the developed countries. Although China's per capita GDP is less than US$800, it has already launched campaigns to control the eco-environment. It cannot wait for the GDP to reach US$4,000, or US$10,000 to begin action. It must seize the opportunity to improve the eco-environment urgently.
The fact that China has launched the campaigns to reconstruct the eco-environment although its per capita GDP is less than US$800, is a leap in development in itself. By placing emphasis on eco-development, forestry in China will enter the phase of sustainable development ahead of schedule.
220.127.116.11 The theory of technology
In order to practice striding development, China must change the backward and traditional mode of production, and adopt advanced science and technology quickly. This is the theory of technology for striding development (see Figure 3.5).
Science and technology, the motive power driving development must be supported by essential inputs. The application of forest technology refers not only to the major breakthroughs in specific technologies relevant to forestry, but also to the assembly of advanced technology, and the wide application of practical skills in eco-development. To achieve rapid development, scientific ideas, research methods, and focal points of forestry should be constantly renewed. Breakthroughs achieved will be the key links, as they will improve the overall scientific and technical knowledge and provide effective support for a leap in development.
Major problems come with minor development, while major development come with minor problems, but serious problems will come with no development.
To plan the mode and course of striding development in forestry in China it is necessary to consider the national conditions. The requirements of socio-economic development, and the country's eco-environmental conditions, as well as the necessity and urgency to improve and strengthen eco-environmental development will determine the process of rapid development in forestry. This is the most important factor for choosing the development mode.
It should be noted, however, that striding development in forestry is restricted by many adverse conditions. The forest is a regenerative resource. However, because of the special function that forests play in the eco-environment, it would be disastrous to follow the mode of “massive felling and massive construction,” and “promote resource development through resource consumption.” Forests have a long growth cycle, in which natural forces play a tremendous role. New inventions and the application of advanced technology can hardly help the forest to grow more quickly.
Forest production is a multi-field and multi-sector social process, covering the primary industry (the renewal of forest resources), the secondary industry (the exploitation of forest products), and tertiary industry (the distribution of and trade in forest products). At the same time, forest production is spread over all parts of the country, with quite different natural conditions and management situations. Therefore, the rapid development of forestry in a certain sector, industry, or area can hardly exert a powerful impetus to the development of forestry in the entire country.
In view of the above factors, China should concentrate its “national strength and human forces on major programs leading to great development in the course of our striding development of forestry” (see Figure 3.6).
Striding development will play a key role in this extremely important phase in China's forestry development. However, the process will not be easy. It will involve the improvement of forest productivity and the adjustment of methods of forest management, development guidelines, and mechanisms.
According to the distribution of forest vegetation, China's eco-zones can be divided into three major types: natural, artificial, and vulnerable. The formation of each type is affected by either natural factors or artificial interventions, the latter being more important.
In the different eco-zones, the dominant functions, objectives, and targets of control, as well as the natural condition of the ecology vary greatly, and hence the target and control must be effectively managed. The target aims at improving the whole situation, renewing the eco-environment, reversing the deteriorating trend, and helping it to develop in a healthy manner in a relatively short period of time.
The multipurpose and diversity of China's forest management require different controlling measures. Any single measure cannot
meet the demands of eco-environmental development. China's rapid development in forestry, both urgent and difficult, requires careful management in scale and pace. Only when major projects match each other, with each feature being addressed, and a well-integrated system put in place can China's forestry move forward to the multipurpose and multifunctional exploitation phase.
Pushing forward forest development by means of programs has been successfully tried. According to the general requirements for nationwide eco-environmental development, and in consideration of the existing major problems, the major projects in forestry have been systematically rectified and integrated and the six key programs have been identified for forest development in the new era. They constitute the material bases for striding development in China's forestry. Their implementation will spread the effects of productive development in China's forest development. The integration of the projects embodies the following aspects:
- Strength is concentrated on major issues and on the overall work, an expression of the new development trend and characteristics of the times;
- Prominence is given to “ecology first, protection primary,” a mainstream concept of forestry development in the new era;
- The principle of “defense against disasters in the light of concrete circumstances” is reflected;
- It is emphasized that the forest ecosystem and the forest industry form an organic entity, supplementing and helping each other.
With integration, strength is concentrated on the major projects and practical results are emphasized. The projects are closely monitored, adjusted and optimized on the basis of past experience. Thus, the general pattern of forest production centers on the six key forestry programs mapped out to drive forward forest development nationwide. In this sense, the six key forestry programs are material carriers for a leap in the development of forestry in the new era.
There must be effective carriers for the major projects to drive development. This strategy is suitable when forestry is at a relatively low level of development. Whether or not these major projects can impel development depends on the design of the projects which must keep in mind future objectives.
Theoretical innovations are also necessary for the major projects to impel development. The management strategy, organization method, and technical measures used in timber production cannot be used for development that is centered on the ecological environment, nor can it lead to the multipurpose and sustainable management phase. New approaches must be found or existing methods adjusted to accelerate the shift from the practice of traditional forestry to the modern approach.
New systems need to be incorporated into the major projects to impel development, without which it is impossible to ensure the pace and efficiency of forest development. Without speed or efficiency, it would be difficult for forestry to gain momentum for rapid development.
Technical innovation is also essential for the major projects to impel development. It must become the driving force of these major projects which will be reflected in the scale and pace of development, as well as in the quality. It is necessary to design the technical system, the management mechanism, and method of implementation according to the objectives of achieving multipurpose and sustainable development. Technology must be assembled on a platform required by the new phase, in order to effect the transformation of management through the use of alternative technical systems.
With rapid development brought about by the major projects, the national purpose to control and improve the eco-environment can best be achieved. The deterioration of China's eco-environment is nationwide. Only through the execution of these major projects on a nationwide basis, with this “national program” clearly representing the national aim of “improving the eco-environment and promoting sustainable development,” can the people be mobilized to promote the rapid development of the whole country.
The development brought about by the major projects can contribute greatly to China's socialist political system. The people being the real masters of the country constitute the center of the socialist political system. The superiority of China's political system lies in its ability to fully mobilize the efforts of the masses into all courses of socio-economic development. It is the same for forest development where the CPC and the people are mobilized to launch social campaigns for forestry. Improving and strengthening the eco-environment is in the fundamental interests of the people. They would therefore support all the major development projects in the country. If the enthusiasm of the masses for rebuilding the nation and its natural resources is aroused, the will of the State will be imbibed into the consciousness and actions of the entire nation, which in turn will impel forest development nationwide.
The rapid development brought about by the major projects will contribute greatly to China's socialist economic system. China has experienced success in economic development by concentrating its efforts on the most important issues of a particular period. At present, the deteriorating condition of the eco-environment is the most pressing problem for the country, the society, and economic development, especially because it is a factor restraining the development of the western region. With the support of national finance and material resources, the Central Government can concentrate on protecting and improving the eco-environment and lay a solid foundation for the long-term development of the country. In this way, the deterioration of the eco-environmental can be reversed in a relatively short period of time and a national eco-environmental system can be built up. This will enable China to seize the initiative for the long-term development of the country and nation.
The strategy of striding development through major projects is thus a realistic choice, given China's national and forest conditions. It not only meets the urgent need to accelerate forest development and improve the eco-environment, but it is also a viable approach. The implementation of the major projects will be a great impetus to forest development, especially that of the eco-environment and promote sustainable development in society and the national economy.
Civilization is not a frozen image, but in constant motion.
Striding development is a phase of the strategy for China's economic development while sustainable development is the long-term and overall aim of socio-economic development. Striding development must therefore be guided by the theory of sustainable development and follow this course.
Sustainable development is a rational choice made after much reflection on the traditional development model. The idea of “sustainable development” originated from a reflection on human history since the Industrial Revolution. In general, people rethink their behavior from effects, and then formulate a theory and method to guide their behavior. Through repeated rethinking, people change their ideas and theories, and adjust their behavior accordingly. Human history is a process of repeated reflections, changes, and adjustments. The proposal for sustainable development is also based upon repeated considerations, changes, and adjustments, and is thus of fundamental significance in human history. Sustainable development therefore requires new ideas to establish new modes and courses of development.
3.6.1 Uniformity in Objectives and Ideology
The objective of striding development is to rapidly develop forest resources and establish two major systems within half a century to enable China's forestry to achieve sustainable development as soon as possible. The aim of this phase is to maintain the productivity and diversity of living things to satisfy the demands of social development. It needs to set up socio-economic and technical systems to ensure sustainable forest development, and to meet the demands of society; and second, to build up bases of resources in the environment and industry for sustainable management which would be adaptable to the current socio-economic development of the country. Thus, the fundamental objectives of the two phases are consistent and successive.
The two phases of development are consistent in ideas as well. The strategy of striding development is based on the theory of sustainable development. Under the guidelines of the theory of sustainable development, innovations in systems and technology relating to forestry are essential to achieve rapid development. On the other hand, the sustainable development of forestry requires an integration of new systems and new technologies, with the full coordination of productive relations and productive forces. The breakthrough made by the striding development in systems and technology has laid a solid foundation for sustainable development.
3.6.2 Uniformity in Foundation
The common factor in the execution of striding development of forestry and the strategy for sustainable development is forest resources, which include the improvement of resource quality, the increase in quantity, the rationalization of distribution, as well as strengthened forest productivity and its effects, all of which can be seen over time. Without forest resources, there would be no need to discuss the relationship between the two.
Both striding development and sustainable development are required for social progress at different phases of forest development. The sustainable development of forestry is a rational choice made after much reflection on past experiences in the practice of traditional forestry. The gap between China and the developed countries in forest conditions has forced the former to make such a strategic choice to meet social demands. However, adjustments have to be made in forest structure to suit new development models. These two development models have been created under pressure from social development. Therefore, social demands form the common theoretical foundation upon which sustainable and striding developments of forestry are based.
3.6.3 Uniformity in Requirement
Although striding development and sustainable development both lay stress on development, the former, under given conditions and in a given historical period, is a process of transition to sustainable development as quickly as possible. This cannot be achieved merely by speeding up economic development however. After analysing the international trend in development phases, reflecting over past experiences, and coming to a clear understanding of China's current situation, the authorities have proposed the striding development strategy, which is different from the “catch and surpass” strategy used in traditional economic development. Striding development will break away from the “type of speed” increase pursued in traditional development and avoid short-term measures and “individual breakthroughs” in economic development. The striding development process pursues such approaches as laying equal stress on speed and efficiency, giving due consideration to current and future development, and coordinating the development of the social economy with the eco-environment. That is to say, the development must be a sustainable one. As for development ideas, consideration should be given to the requirements of both current and future economic development, not just satisfying the interests of the present at the cost of the interests of future generations. So it is with the sustainable development strategy.
3.6.4 Change in Focus
Striding development of forestry is a strategy characterized by rapid advances over a fixed period of time during which the “exhausting type” of negative development is changed to a positive sustainable one. Everything develops according to its inherent law, and so does striding development. Hence, rapid development during a given phase cannot be maintained over a prolonged period.
China's striding development of forestry is a process that will be carried out through major projects in phases. The integration of the six key forestry programs embodies the following principles: overall services, unique features, intensified protection, rapid development, making overall plans and taking all factors into consideration, setting priorities, optimizing the structure, and improving the distribution. The six key forestry programs will be the basis for the protection and improvement of the ecology and China's forestry industry. However striding development of forestry is unbalanced. The State can only inject limited funds for the implementation of these programs and this financial support cannot be prolonged. Striding development aims at turning China's forestry into a self-help system at an early date.
The sustainable development of forestry focuses on maintaining a long-term development momentum and coordinating the complex systems of social ecology. It is a many-faceted, perpetual, benign, and balanced improvement. A balanced relationship between forestry and other industries is necessary for sustainable forestry development. As a major component of the social economy, forest development should not affect the strategy of sustainable social development. At the same time, the State needs to maintain a balanced program of forestry; coordinate development in each zone of forest; and work toward to a permanent, complete and healthy forest ecosystem. The key to sustainable development of forestry lies in sustainable management, that is, maintaining harmony between the behavior of man and the natural laws of the forest. This will not only ensure a relationship that is conducive to sustainable development, but also keep the natural property of forest resources sustainable. The alternative to striding development of forestry is extraordinary development. Sustainable development, because of its perpetual nature, cannot maintain the skipping pace indefinitely, but will assume a relatively steady momentum.
3.6.5 Change of Times
Striding development is a unique phase in the sustainable development process, and it is also the third step in a phased development strategy to achieve strategic objectives in China's modernization program. Thus, China's strategy of striding development is a short-term regional (in trade) and even nationwide process. The target is explicit: to catch up with the more developed countries of the world by the year of 2050, mainly by applying information technology to drive forward industrialization. Sustainable development is an endless process, infinite in time, and regional or even global in space. The target is all-round development of the society, the environment, and the economy. The basic common understanding is coordination and fairness.
As a species, man must complete the sustainable development if he does not want to be a transient note marked in the evolution.
3.7.1 The Strategic Objectives
The strategic objectives of striding development in China's forestry are: to set up, by and large, a multipurpose and multifunctional basic framework by 2010 through strict protection, active cultivation, and rational exploitation of forest resources; increase forest cover to 20.3%, acreage of nature reserves to 155 million hectares, with 99% of typical forests being protected effectively, 22 million hectares of desert being reversed, forest structures fundamentally regulated, and the deteriorating trend in the eco-environment basically contained; forested areas reaching 30% in 70% of the cities; the rate of plantation reaching 40%, with the contribution rate reaching 40%, made possible by the progress of science and technology.
By 2020, China expects to expand the distribution of multi-purpose management techniques and establish a multifunctional management system. It aims also to increase forest cover to 23.4%, and raising the acreage of nature reserves to 162.1 million hectares, making up 16.8% of the total land area of the country. It has also set a target of 95% of the typical ecosystem forest being protected effectively and 20 million hectares of desert soil improved. The forest areas would cover 35% in 70% of the cities; while the rate of afforestation would reach 65%, with a contribution rate of 45% made by the progress in science and technology to the forest economy. As a result, many changes will take place in the eco-environment, and forestry will be considerably strengthened.
By 2050, it is also hoped that forestry would have entered the sustainable development phase, with multipurpose management, and multifunctional exploitation. The typical ecosystem forest would also be protected effectively, and desertification controlled and even reversed. Plantations would be cultivated with improved varieties of trees. By that time a forest ecosystem would have been established, which is rational in distribution, perfect in functions and effective in management, as well as a forest industry system, that is sequential in scale, intensive in management, and full of vitality. Thus, with a fundamentally improved eco-environment and a blueprint for “green mountains and clear rivers” in hand, China's forestry will reach the level of that of the more developed countries of the world.
With the objectives of the striding development strategy achieved, the multipurpose management of China's forestry will proceed into the sustainable phase, producing three benefits. Forested areas will reach 270 million hectares, exceeding the current levels in the United States and Canada, and ranking third in the world. Forest cover will reach the average world level and there would be at least 114 cubic meters per hectare in storage, a world average, while total storage would amount to more than 30 billion cubic meters, ranking third in the world, next only to Russia and Brazil. The per capita forest area will increase by more than 40%, and the per capita storage will reach 17.8 cubic meters, nearly double the present figure. The acreage of nature reserves will be expanded to approach the present U.S. level and will exceed the level of Australia and Canada by a big margin, ranking it second in the world. China's eco-environment will have been fundamentally improved. In addition, there would be an increasing supply of all kinds of forest products, which would fundamentally meet the demands of the people for all kinds of products from the forests.
3.7.2 The Strategic Steps
18.104.22.168 The preparatory stage (1995–2000)
In 1995, at a national conference of principals and directors of forestry departments the reform of management was discussed. The objective of establishing a more perfect ecosystem and a better system for the forestry industry was formulated, pointing the direction for forest development. Thus, the Forestry's Action Plan for China's Agenda 21 was proposed for implementation. The Ministry of Forestry and the State Commission for Economic Restructuring jointly issued The Reform Outline of the Forestry Economic System, setting out the steps for forestry reform. At the National Conference on Forestry Science and Technology, the Ministry of Forestry's ideas for implementing the Decisions on Accelerating Scientific and Technological Progress by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council was put forward.
In 1996, the Ministry of Forestry announced the Decisions on a Number of Issues Concerning the Deepening of Reform and Stepping up the Development of State-owned Forestland, outlining specific requirements for management reform, structural adjustment, shift in the management mechanism, rational exploitation of resources, and optimization of the industry in state-owned forestlands.
With the approval of the National People's Congress, China in 1997 officially acceded to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Thereafter, a meeting was held to plan for demonstration areas to be selected to show the model approach for forest development in the mountainous areas and for helping the poor through forestry. At the meeting, the guideline to “improve land, control water, plant trees, construct roads and supply power” was put forward. This was to enable the eco-economic theory to touch the people's hearts. On August 5 that year, Jiang Zemin wrote a long commentary on eco-environmental development in China's western region, and suggested “rebuilding a northwestern region with beautiful mountains and rivers.” This was the clarion call to march toward eco-environmental development with the participation of the entire people.
The catastrophic floods of 1998 jolted the whole society into realizing the potential dangers and turned their attention to the preservation of forests, setting them on the road to “taking into consideration the three benefits” and “giving priority to ecology.” The same year, the Second Session of the Ninth National People's Congress adopted the amendment to the Forest Law of the PRC, providing a new tool for forest management.
From 1998 to 2000, experiments were carried out to designate natural forest reserves at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River, while the western region undertook the experiment of “returning farmland to forests.” The Fifth Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee of the CPC in 2000 set forth the strategic tasks of “driving industrialization with IT and achieving the striding development of social productive forces,” indicating the way forward. The same year, the national conference attended by principals and directors of forestry departments specified the tasks to be undertaken under the new circumstances, and proposed the idea of deepening the reform of forest management and pursuing the strategy of achieving breakthroughs in all the regions. Thus, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State took a series of forceful measures and laid the foundation for striding development of forestry.
22.214.171.124 The take-off stage (2001–10)
In the 21st century, there has been rapid progress in China's forestry. At the 2001 national conference mentioned earlier, the State Forestry Administration outlined the strategic task of “stressing the adjustment of distribution, quickening eco-development and making efforts to achieve striding development in China's forestry.” It actively coordinated with the relevant ministries and commissions and, through a systematic integration and merging of the original projects, specified six major ones for implementation. The six key forestry programs were approved by the State Council and incorporated into the Tenth Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development. The carrying out of the six key forestry programs will give considerable impetus to the adjustment of forest product distribution. The State will also set up a compensation fund system to be used to obtain forest benefits. The Strategic Research on Sustainable Development of China's Forestry has done intensive studies on a number of important issues about forest development, providing a scientific basis for decision-making by the State. The National Forest Conference, which is now in preparation, is aimed at improving the relationship between forestry production and the forest staffs. The State will formulate a series of measures to promote the sustainable development of forestry and better regulate the management of forest production. Unprecedented importance will be attached to the utilization of human resources involved in forestry, so that their skills can be improved and conditions created to fully exploit their potential. In addition, much effort will be put into enhancing forest technology, and upgrading management skills.
At this stage, China's forest cover is expected to increase to 20.3%, with the average annual growth rate doubled compared with that of the past fifty years. Nature reserves will reach 1,800 in number, with an average annual increase of more than fifty, the reserve acreage amounting to 155 million hectares, with an average annual increase of 3.1 million hectares. As a result, the deteriorating trend of the eco-environment will be primarily contained, and a framework centered on eco-development with multifunctional exploitation will be completed.
126.96.36.199 The flying stage (2011–20)
With the development of the social economy, the people will expect higher eco-environmental quality, and the demand for various forest products will increase. Since the environment will be relatively stable, all dominant investors will expect more benefits from the forest management. This will encourage people from all walks of life to take an interest in forestry investment, which will propel forestry to develop rapidly, but the focus will be on quality rather than speed.
By 2020, with ten years of painstaking efforts, the national forest cover is expected to reach 23.4%. A multifunctional management system will take shape and begin to play a leading role, and the eco-environment will be considerably improved.
188.8.131.52 The landing stage (2021–50)
At this stage, the focus of forestry development will shift from quantity to quality improvement. People will concentrate their efforts on improving the quality of forest resources, optimizing forest structures, and enhancing forestry services. Although there will be only a minor increase in forest cover, yet each step will be difficult as the conditions for afforestation will become more unfavorable. If all the difficult areas are planted over the next thirty years (public eco-forests, with minor maintenance cost), and an increase of 0.1% in forest cover is achieved each year, this would double the forest cover since the founding of the PRC.
By 2050, it is possible that the forest cover will reach 28.3%, nature reserves increase to 2,500 in number, and the acreage of nature reserves expanded to 172.8 million hectares. When these objectives are achieved, China's forestry will enter the sustainable development phase with multipurpose management and multifunctions.
Success in development strategy will reap the most fruits, otherwise a disastrous failure.
Striding development is a special phase leading to sustainable development, which is the ultimate goal. It will push forward sustainable development considerably and hasten the transformation of forestry. Meanwhile, there is a need to reconstruct the development framework for the strategy to be effective.
It was under such circumstances and historic conditions that Wen Jiabao put forward, at the National Conference on Forestry Science and Technology in June 2001, the proposal to step up research on major issues regarding forestry development. The experience of Chinese forestry development shows that a successful macro strategy can guarantee healthy forestry development. A well-managed macro strategy will contribute greatly to the future of forestry development. Otherwise, forestry development will slow down or even suffer serious setbacks.
3.8.1 Start-up of Research Work
According to Wen Jiabao's speech, the State Forestry Administration took on the development of a macro strategy as its central task, and set up a study group for the Strategic Research on the Sustainable Development of China's Forestry. It formed a leading group of specialists and experts to draw up a program and a mechanism for the research. It also gathered a high-quality research team consisting of more than 300 members, including sixty members from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and some veteran experts, with expertise in more than forty subjects, to carry out active research on forestry development strategies. Such a large-scale and high-level research work had been rarely seen in specific research on forestry. It was the first time in the history of forestry in China that such a large number of domestic experts and scholars had been gathered to do their research openly.
On January 18, 2002, Wen Jiabao presided over a program meeting to discuss the “Sketch Catalog.” Directors and experts from twenty-three ministries, commissions, and administrations as well as relevant research institutes accepted the general framework of the research and the main contents, and put forward their constructive suggestions.
At the meeting to present the reports, Wen Jiabao made an important announcement, stating that: “The performance of this research was done according to the instructions of Jiang Zemin, who pointed out in 1996 and 1998 that we should establish and improve the overall mechanism for both the environment and development from the perspective of macro-management. I myself proposed at the National Conference of Forestry Science and Technology held in June 2001 that experts in many subjects should be organized to start specific research on forestry. Thanks to the efforts of the State Forestry Administration, research work has made substantive progress.” Wen Jiabao made three proposals for further improving the research work, as discussed below.
184.108.40.206 Recognition of the important role of forestry in sustainable development
China, the largest developing country in the world with the largest population but limited per capita resources and at the industrializing stage, has much to do to develop a harmonious relationship between the economy and the eco-environment. A sharp decline in natural forest resources, serious soil erosion, expanding desertation, frequent sandstorms, destruction of biodiversity, serious shortage of water resources, and the fast deterioration of the eco-environment, have all become serious problems affecting the survival of the Chinese nation and the development of society. Forestry is an important foundation for the sustainable development of the economy and society, and also the most fundamental and permanent measure of eco-development. Therefore, forestry should assume an important role in sustainable development and eco-development.
220.127.116.11 Recognition of the necessity and urgency of specific research on forestry
The Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council attach great importance to democratic and scientific decision-making. On major strategic issues, it is important to listen to all opinions including those of experts and scholars, and to reach a consensus for the best formula through scientific experiments and repeated comparisons. Forestry affects the eco-environment, the economy, and social development. Therefore, it is important to carry out research to develop a macro strategy. The extensive promotion of democracy and the conduct of scientific experiments may reduce misconduct in decision-making and avoid serious problems. Presently, forestry and eco-environmental development are being pursued at an increasing pace. Hence, there is an urgent need for a set of sound principles, policies, and scientific programs to guide the process. It is therefore crucial to strengthen the research on forest development.
3.8.2 Conclusive Achievements
After eight months of hard work, on September 29, 2002, the study teams tasked with the Strategic Research on the Sustainable Development of China's Forestry reported to Wen Jiabao on the following key areas.
18.104.22.168 The overall strategic concept
According to the requirements of the “Three Representations” initiated by Jiang Zemin—that is, “promote the coordination and harmony between man and nature so that people can work and live in a graceful eco-environment, persist in the sustainable development strategy, and correctly handle the relationship among the population, resources and environment, so as to improve and beautify the eco-environment, strengthen public facilities and social welfare institutions, and make efforts to pave the way for productive development, an opulent life, and a good eco-environment,” and achieve the grand objective of “green hills and clear rivers” by the middle of this century. Forestry development in the new era must complete the historic transformation from timber-centered production to eco-development-centered forestry. It is a shift of fundamental importance in the process of China's forestry development.
In keeping with this concept, the research set out the general strategic plan for the development of China's forestry in the first half of the 21st century:
- Establish a sustainable development course for forestry centered on eco-development;
- Establish an eco-security system for state land centered on forest vegetation; and
- Establish an eco-civilized society with green mountains and clear rivers.
Hence, the core is eco-development, eco-security, and eco-civilization.
Research has shown that these three elements are interrelated and complementary. Eco-development is the basis for eco-security, while eco-security is in turn the guarantee for eco-civilization, and eco-civilization is the ultimate objective of eco-development.
The strategic guideline is therefore: “strict protection, active development, scientific management, and sustainable utilization.”
China's material production and environmental services in forestry are far from adequate for the demands of economic and social development. The lagging forestry sector has become a major impediment to sustainable development of the economy and society. In the new historical period, in line with the overall objective of sustainable development, a comprehensive approach to forestry development based on the idea of “eco-development, eco-security, and eco-civilization” should be adopted. The aim is to strictly protect the ecosystem, such as natural forests, wildlife, and wetlands; actively cultivate plantations and other green industries; and combine advanced technology with traditional technology to improve the scientific management of forests in order to realize the sustainable exploitation of ligneous and non-ligneous resources and eco-resources.
Being the largest developing country in the world, China's population, natural resources, and a deteriorating environment determines that forestry development will be a long and difficult task. On the other hand, the pressing demands for forestry in economic and social development will not allow China to continue to follow the traditional eco-environmental course of “damaging before controlling; damaging while controlling,” which most of the developing countries are following.
22.214.171.124 Strategic channels
With the six key forestry programs spearheading development, guided by scientific and technological innovations and impelled by system-restructuring, a rapid development of forestry should bring the country directly from the timber-production-centered stage to the eco-development-centered stage. The eco-environment will then be transformed from the stage of partial improvement and overall deterioration to a steady ongoing improvement of the eco-environment, and the forest economy will also be transformed from an inefficient and high-cost one at the present time to an integrated, highly efficient, and low-cost type. In the area of science and technology too, the present backward technology will be replaced by more advanced and new ones. The final goal is to realize the sustainable development of forestry in China.
126.96.36.199 Ten strategic issues
- Protection and cultivation of natural forest resources. Through strict protection and active cultivation, and by integrating protection and cultivation, forests can be renewed and multiplied and the benefits of effective protection and rational exploitation of resources can be realized.
- Returning farmland to forests. This task aims at restoring grass and forest vegetation and controlling soil erosion. This should be combined with eco-migration, energy development, structural adjustment, and rural development. Improvement of the relevant policies and prolonging the time limit of subsidies will facilitate “returning farmland to forests.” Gradually establishing a long-term and steady compensation mechanism for eco-benefits will ensure its “progress, consolidation, and wealth-creation.”
- Combating desertification. For this objective, prevention should be taken as the primary method, but also giving priority to protection. Active control is also important, as is rational exploitation and the restoration of vegetation, as well as coordinated development.
- Protection of wildlife and wetlands and the development of nature reserves. This involves protecting, restoring, and enlarging the sanctuaries of wildlife, protection of endangered wildlife resources, effective preservation of typical ecosystems, and maintaining and enriching the biodiversity of forests.
- Development of science and technology. In order to promote advanced development in forestry, it is essential to put priority on science and technology to greatly improve the quality and benefits of eco-development and forestry development. Innovations in science and technology with regard to forestry act as powerful forces in promoting the development of forest productivity and constructing effective, intensive, and sustainable forestry.
- Forestry development in agriculture and adjustment of the rural economic structure. It is important to energetically develop rural forestry to ensure grain supply, the income of farmers, and to achieve the modernization of agriculture.
- Forestry development in urban areas. It is essential to quickly develop urban forests, construct green islands, peripheral green belts and suburban forests, and change the city environment from a single-green to an eco-green function, and create safe, natural, and comfortable habitats.
- Preservation of vegetation and rational exploitation of water resources. It is important to realize the function of vegetation in water development, water regulation, and improvement of water quality. This will ensure good eco-water and enable the construction of a conveyance system for water conservancy facilities.
- Forest disaster prevention and control. In preventing and controlling forest disasters, it is necessary to adhere to the principle of “putting prevention first and performing overall control.” It is important to strengthen the national and local ranks, as well as infrastructures against forest disasters, enhance the capability to handle crises and take rapid action in order to effectively reduce and control damage or loss through plant diseases, pests, and fire disasters, and to ensure the health and safety of forests.
- Development of the forestry industry. In forest development, cultivation plays an important part in ensuring renewal and multiplication of natural forest resources. Cultivating plantations can satisfy the increasing demands of society for forest products.
After listening to the report on the conclusive achievements of the Strategic Research on the Sustainable Development of China's Forestry, Wen Jiabao made an important speech, pointing out that this research program had made an in-depth analysis and produced innovative ideas and breakthroughs such as the following:
- On strategic ideas, it proposed the general strategy of “establishing an eco-development-oriented course for the sustainable development of forestry, setting up the vegetation-based national land eco-security system and constructing a civilized eco-society,” with focus on “eco-development, eco-security, and eco-civilization.” It also defined the strategic principle of “strict protection, active development, scientific management, and sustainable exploitation;”
- On the strategic course, the research stated that striding development in forestry would be achieved with the six key forestry programs as the carrier, scientific, and technological innovations as the precursor, and system-restructuring as the driving force. China's forestry would bring about a historic shift from a concentration on timber production to a focus on eco-development in order to reap ecological, economic, and social benefits;
- On major strategic issues, the research identified the ten major issues bearing on the sustainable development of China's forestry in the new century, including the protection of natural forest resources, returning farmland to forests, combating desertification, and preventing and controlling forest disasters. Combining theory with practice, the research specified strategic objectives for the work and measures to ensure success.
Wen Jiabao fully affirmed the achievements of the Strategic Research on the Sustainable Development of China's Forestry and pointed the way for the future development of China's forestry.
The macro-strategy of forestry in the new era calls for a historic change. The new situation, new problems, and new tasks in forestry development require innovative theories to reform outdated systems and to adjust the mechanisms and policies obstructing forestry development in order to make them fit in with the needs of striding development. Without innovative theories or striding development, the productivity of China's forestry will stagnate and impede sustainable development of the economy and society. The systematic integration of projects in forestry development, the establishment of the six key forestry programs, and the strategy of striding development as well as the new direction in forestry development, will all contribute toward sustainable development if major innovative theories based on research are forthcoming.
Experts and scholars from all ranks, who represent China's elite, have affirmed the necessity for a new direction in forestry through their analysis of the present conditions as well as their field investigations and studies. They have carried out studies on the six key forestry programs, striding development, and historic change as well as major issues relevant to forestry development, and have defined the strategic objectives of “eco-development, eco-security, and eco-civilization” based on their findings. This demonstrates that the decisions of the State Forestry Administration conform with the assessments of the experts and scholars; the ideas of the experts and scholars and the decisions of the leaders have been tested and affirmed in social practice. If the study to develop a macro strategy is regarded as a bull, then realizing the historic transformation from timber production to eco-development should be regarded as the nose by which the bull will be led.