Program progress

1) Program investment. From the pilot program in 1998 to the end of 2004, the accumulative investment reached RMB 48.83 billion, of which RMB 12.29 billion were the central infrastructure investment, RMB 33.96 billion were the special subsidy fund of the central governmental finance, and RMB 2.58 billion were the counterpart funds of local government.

2) Reduction of timber production. According to the “implementation plan of natural forest protection program in upper reaches of Yangtze River and upper and middle reaches of Yellow river”, since 2000, commercial harvesting of natural forest in upper reaches of Yangtze River and upper and middle reaches of Yellow River have been completely stopped, actual reduction of commercial timber was 13.518 million m3, the reduction target of timber production have been achieved as planned in key regions of national forests in northeastern China and Inner Mongolia, the annual targets for logging ban and reduction of timber production have also been completed.

3) Management and protection of forest resources. Up to the end of 2004, more than 98 million ha of forests were effectively protected in the program regions. A responsibility system for forest protection was fully implemented, a number of timber trading markets and timber processing factories in forest regions were banned and closed, irrational forest harvesting and over logging in the program regions were reduced year after year, and occurrences of forest fires, diseases and pests tended to decline.

4) Development of public welfare forest. The development of public welfare forest was completed according to annual plans. By the end of 2004, the task of development of public welfare forest was completed as planned, including 1.931 million ha of artificial plantings, 2.76 million ha of aero seeding and 6.801 million ha of mountain closures.

5) Relocation of surplus workers. By the end of 2004, 0.693 million surplus workers were relocated with satisfaction, of which 0.2053 million workers were shifted to forest management and protection, and 0.338 million workers was treated by one-time settlement, more than 0.12 million workers were shifted to development of public welfare forest and seedling production, close to 20,000 workers were still in the reemployment centers of the enterprises.

6) Implementation of the system of basic pension insurance from social contributions and the incentive policies for governmental and community service employees. During the 7 years of program implementation, a total of RMB 6.115 billion special investment was arranged for pension insurance and social pooling fund of employees. In 2003, among the registered employees 0.906 million people joined the provincial, prefecture and county level social pooling funds for pension, accounting for 82.7% of the total number of registered employees. By the end of 2003, there were 0.1178 million governmental and community service employees, of which 24,900 people were from public security, procuratorate and court of justice, 59,800 people from education, 33,100 people from medical care and hygiene. And there were 17,167 employees of government organizations paid by the enterprises with governmental functions.

7) Plant stocks, forest fire protection infrastructure and scientific and technological support. A total area of 68,000 ha of seed production forest stands were established in the program regions, 6,634 ha of seed orchards, 102,000 ha of seed production bases, 17,000 ha of nurseries, equipped with 6,886 sets of irrigation systems. Forest fire protection infrastructure was improved, including 1,955 watch towers, 58,147 km roads, 87,653 km isolation zones, 313,852 sets of equipments, 1,926 vehicles. A total of 14,459 ha of technical demonstration forests were established, 23,992 ha of technical extension forests, 638 ha of nurseries of reproduction techniques and 23,992 ha of forests for other research purposes were established respectively.  

Program achievements

1) Ecological benefit. The long time over consumption of forest resources became under effective control, and forest resources tended to increase gradually year after year. According to preliminary statistics, during nearly 7 years of program implementation, the accumulative reduction of forest resource consumption was 320 million m3, the long time over logging in forest regions became under control, and synchronized increase was achieved for both the area and the volume of forest resources. Forest coverage merely in key regions of national forests in northeastern China and Inner Mongolia increased by 5.58% compared to the fifth national inventory of forest resources (1994-1998) and reached 77.61%. Forest area and volume respectively increased by 1.127 million ha and 40 million m3, coming to totals of 25.411 million ha and 2.273 billion m3. The degrading trend of ecological functions of forest was effectively reversed, and significant improvement was achieved in some local areas. According to a sampling survey conducted in 22 counties in upper reaches of Yangtze River and middle and upper reaches of Yellow river, the area of water loss and soil erosion decreased by 5.99% compared to that before the implementation of the program. The mud and sand content in Yangtze River tended to decline throughout the river system. Water appeared again in many dry-out water sources and springs, and rainfall and air humidity significantly increased.

2) Social benefit. The public awareness of natural forest protection was strengthened, ensuring social stability in forest regions. The social benefit produced by the program was unprecedented and huge. Firstly, protection of natural forest gained wide participation and support from the public. The public awareness of ecological protection, forest protection, resource saving and environmental protection were record-breaking improved, the implementation of natural forest protection program was widely recognized to have essential impacts on the existence and development of the nation and considered a major event benefiting the current generation and future generations of human society. Secondly, the surplus workers of enterprises were well resettled by relocation. On the one hand, by one-time settlement, the number of registered employees in the program regions reduced from original 1.465 million to 1.097 million. On the other hand, the number of employees directly engaged in timber production reduced from original 0.375 million to 0.112 million, a decrease of more than 70%. Whereas, the number of employees engaged in forest management and protection increased from 45,900 to 205,300, an expansion of 3 times. Thirdly, the participation in pension insurance by employees in the program regions promoted social stability. Among the 1.097 million registered employees, 0.906 million employees were included in pension contribution from social and sectoral sources at province, prefecture and county levels, accounting for 82.7% of the total number of registered employees. The gradual enforcement of the policy of basic pension insurance gradually strengthened the development energy of enterprises. With unveiling of the policy by the government to exempt the debts to financing organizations of forest industry enterprises and the gradual build up of 4 social insurance systems of medical care, employment, on-job injury and natality, a more favorable environment for burden relief and acceleration of development for enterprises.

3) Economic benefit. With continual implementation of the natural forest protection program, all places are actively exploring ways of natural forest protection and economic development in forest regions that suitable for local economic development and conception of forest management has been greatly changed. The first of such changes was the change from timber production to development and protection of forest resources, speeding up restoration and growth of forest resources. The second was the change of economic development direction from “merely supported by timber production” to structural adjustment and multipurpose management, displaying good development trends in some regions. The third was the change of employment channels from pure timber products to diversified forest products, significantly increasing employment opportunities. Before the program implementation, the structure of forestry industries was large in the middle and small at two ends, i.e. the second industry was large in proportion while proportions of the first and the third industries were small. After the program implementation, the timber-production centered management model was broken, the second industry centered on timber production and related timber processing was challenged, with increasing investment in public welfare forest, the first industry centered on afforestation has been rapidly developed. Many regions are making full use of the rich natural resources of the forests to actively develop non-timber and non-forest industries and the third industry, and intensively develop new economic growth point, preliminary adjustment of the industrial structure has been achieved.