Nation boosts support for its forestry

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China has strengthened its fiscal support for its increasing forest area, launched a number of national ecological projects and implemented a nationwide compulsory tree-planting program to expand forests over the past two decades, Yin Hong, deputy administrator of the State Forestry Administration, said at a news conference on Monday in Beijing.

China's forest area had increased to 195 million hectares in 2012 from 134 million hectares in 1992 . [Xinhua file photo]

China's forest area had increased to 195 million hectares in 2012 from 134 million hectares in 1992 . [Xinhua file photo]

Despite a decreasing global forest reserve, the country's forest area had increased to 195 million hectares in 2012. That was up from 134 million hectares in 1992, according to the administration.

At present, China has more than 61 million hectares of reforested area, the most in the world. Its area undergoing desertification is dropping by 1,717 square kilometers annually, compared to an annual expansion of 3,436 square kilometers at the end of the 1990s, Yin said.

"All the achievements show that China has effectively implemented international conventions in the field of sustainable development," she said ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro starting on June 20.

The Chinese government will continue to increase investment in the sector, focusing on forest cultivation, wetland, wildlife and habitat protection, and land desertification control, she said.

The country pledged to expand its forest area by 40 million hectares from 2005 to 2020, according to the administration.

Hunting permissions

Seven US citizens who had requested permission to hunt in China rescinded their application last year after the requests sparked heated debate on animal rights among the public, a senior forestry official said on Monday.

They submitted their application to the State Forestry Administration last year in hopes of being approved to hunt 16 wild animals at the Dulan International Hunting Ground in Northwest China's Qinghai province.

In August, the administration conducted an assessment of the US citizens' request, said Yan Xun, chief engineer of the department of wildlife conservation and nature reserve management of the State Forestry Administration.

Soon after media reported the story, more than 70 animal protection organizations signed a petition opposing the hunting request.

"The US citizens decided to rescind the requests after media reports provoked great debates on their hunting behavior," he said.

"For any application on hunting in China in the future, the administration will continue to conduct assessments and then decide whether to give the approval or not," he said.

Yan's words were in response to a wide concern among foreign hunters and animal rights activists on whether China should open sport hunting to the world, a booming new form of vacation in many countries now.

Some analysts believe it is unlikely that China will open its sport hunting in the near future. This is because animal rights activists in the country are against the killing of animals, instead of realizing that animal populations can thrive and increase when good conservation practices are followed.

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