International Day of Forests 2020

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Too precious to lose

When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to forests in one way or another.

Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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A picture of the Tongzhou district section of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal taken by photographer Ma Wenxiao in June. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

Forests and Biodiversity

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012.

The organizers are the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organizations in the field.

The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2020 is Forests and Biodiversity.

China’s afforestation efforts protect the land and improve livelihood

BEIJING, March 12 -- China has made remarkable progress on greening the land due to extensive afforestation projects implementation.The year 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of Chinese Arbor Day. In 2019, more than 7 million hectares of trees were planted, and over 7.7 million hectares degraded forests and 3.147 million hectares degraded grassland were treated, 2.26 million hectares desertification areas were was placed under protection, and 93 thousand hectares wetland were rehabilitated, according to a report that was released by the National Afforestation Committee.

Moreover, the online tree planting campaign are also very popular in China, more and more Chinese citizens are contributing to China’s forestation efforts with the help of online platforms. To date, there are 15 provinces have piloted the online tree plantation activities.

Till the end of last year, the forest coverage rate in China increased to nearly 23%, with the forest area reached to 220 million hectares. The forest coverage rate of China has increased nearly 10 percentage since the late 1970s, with the world's largest area of planted forests and an 80-percent expansion of forest areas, said Zhang Jianlong, director of National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China.

According to the report, in 2019, China added 28 National Forest Cities, 39 National Garden Cities, 7586 National Forest Villages.

The greening efforts also brought economic and social benefits to the people across China, especially in remote areas. The report also showed that China’s forest tourism received 1.8 billion visits in 2019, an increase of 12.5 percent year-on-year, which creates a comprehensive economic value of about 1.75 trillion yuan ($250 billion). Nearly 1 million people under the poverty line were working as forest rangers last year, and about 3 million people’s income were increased.

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Saihanba forest farm in Hebei province.

China urges greater afforestation efforts

BEIJING, March 24, China daily -- China urged greater afforestation efforts amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak to ensure afforestation targets are met this year, according to a circular released by the General Office of the State Council.

Promoting afforestation in an active and orderly manner is an important part of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realizing the economic and social development goals of the 13th Five-Year Plan. It is also an important measure to boost employment and incomes of the poor and win the battle against poverty, the circular said.

Regions with a low risk of the COVID-19 epidemic should speed up afforestation while medium-risk regions should stagger working hours to promote afforestation in a safe and orderly manner.

The circular called for efforts to organize poor farmers to shoulder more local afforestation work in a bid to boost their incomes and help eradicate poverty.
It urged local authorities to adjust afforestation plans in a timely manner, make reasonable arrangement based on different seasons and ensure sufficient supplies of seedlings.

The circular stressed more efforts to flexibly carry out voluntary tree planting activities and promote the greening of government agencies, schools, communities, barracks, factory areas and mining areas, among others.

Authorities across the country should also improve the quality of afforestation and protect the current achievements while making more efforts in the prevention and control of pests such as American white moths and desert locusts, it said.

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