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China's Artificial Forest Area Ranks First in the World

China's artificial forest preservation area has reached 700 million mu (46.69 million hectares), accounting for 26 percent of the world's total artificial forest area, and thus ranking first in the world. The figure was released by an international seminar on China's forest and timber industries sustainable development held on October 26 in Beijing.

Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Forest Administration, said the country's forest area had increased to 2.38 billion mu (160 million hectares), with timber storage up to 12.5 billion cubic meters and the percentage of forest cover reaching 16.55 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in the 1950s. Thus, the nation's forestry resources had been effectively protected and developed. The accumulated total of timber and bamboo provided by the forestry industry to society currently stands at more than 5 billion cubic meters and more than 8 billion cubic meters respectively; tree-planting by volunteers totals 8.2 billion person-times.

Zhou said China would further enlarge the opening of the forestry industry to the outside world. It welcomes domestic and overseas businesses to participate in the country's forestation efforts, the forestry industry in general, forestry by-product processing and forestry product trades in various forms, including establishing solely-foreign funded enterprises and joint ventures, shareholding, contracting and leasing. The related government forestry departments would create a more relaxed environment and convenient conditions for cooperation.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the Economic Development Research Center of the State Forest Administration and the Hong Kong Global Timer Development Co. Ltd. During the meeting, Chen Yanhua, chairwoman of the Hong Kong company's board of directors delivered a report in which she put forward the company's plan to support the mainland's forestry and timber industries development.

Actively promoted by Ms Chen, the establishment of the world's largest international timber comprehensive trading market sponsored and funded by individual businesspeople and consortiums from China, the United States, Malaysia, Australia, Britain, France, Italy and News Zealand would start soon, it was revealed.

(China.org.cn translated by Li Jingrong October 28, 2003)

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