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Forestry Protection Fails to Protect
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The Great Hinggan Mountains in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, one of the country’s largest state-owned forest zones is facing a very real threat to its continuation. Experts suggest a new-round national survey to be conducted on forest resources, so as to adjust timber production plans and ensure sustainable development of natural forest resources.

The Great Hinggan Mountains are one of the country’s major natural forest distributing zones. Since 1964 it has been exploited as a timber production base. In 1998 it was listed among the first batch of trial bases implementing the Natural Forests Conservation Project.


The project imposed a restricted amount of timber to be cut in the zone. As a result, the timber output has decreased to 2.14 million cubic meters by 2003, half of which are saplings cut from well-tended eco-forests, and nearly 800,000 of which are over-mature trees from commercial forests.


However, a dilemma still exists despite the fact that the amount of timber cut decreases each year. On the one hand, resources available for logging are quite limited since the commercial forest, accounting for one fourth of the total forest, has been over-logged for 40 years. At the current cutting speed, no trees will be left for logging within16 years, and people will have to wait another 36 years for under-mature trees to grow. On the other hand, saplings in well-tended eco-forests cost a lot and sell at a comparatively low price. For enterprises engaged in logging, the more they cut, the greater loss they suffer. To make up losses, they have to secretly cut mature trees.


Why do natural forests available for logging in the Great Hinggan Mountains become less five years after the Natural Forests Conservation Project kicked off? Experts put the blame on plans for timber production divorced from that of practice.


Dai Wanchun, former official from the administrative office of the Great Hinggan Mountains, said the amount of timber cut designated by relevant administrative departments doesn’t tally with practical operation. It cannot realize sustainable development and must be revised.


Most trees from Jiagedaqi to the Mohe River are second growth. Half of the 10 forestry bureaus in the region find it difficult to engage in logging in the area. A local official in charge of forestry administration admitted that 30 percent of forests in the area are“adolescent” timber.


The gloomy future makes people worried. “The forest will become a loess plateau if no measure is taken to preserve it,” said Wang Tianhui, head of Tuqiang Forestry Administration. While Tang Tingdi, deputy director of the Great Hinggan Mountains Region Working Committee of the Heilongjiang Provincial People’s Congress Standing Committee, worries that the Natural Forests Conservation Project will fall between two stools.


Sheng Weitong and Huang Heyu, experts from the Chinese Academy of Forestry, warn that if the current situation continues, forest resource conservation will face great difficulties and the forestry ecological function will be weakened, thus threatening the safety of the Heilong and Nenjiang rivers as well as industrial and agricultural production on the Songnen Plain. The area would suffer a resource and economic crisis.


Experts suggest the amount of timber cut be decreased in the Great Hinggan Mountains.


( translated by Zhang Tingting, September 11, 2003)

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