“China Announces Plan to Deepen Reform of Collective Forest Rights System”
On October 12, the State Council Information Office held a press conference to announce the “Plan for Deepening the Reform of the Collective Forest Rights System.” This plan was recently issued by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council.
According to Tang Fanglin, deputy director of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, the Party Central Committee and the State Council highly value the reform of the collective forest rights system. The issuance of this plan is the first document on forestry reform and development issued by the Central Committee since the 20th National Congress. It signifies a new era and a new journey to deepen the collective forest rights system, providing a new blueprint and vision for reform. This is of great significance in promoting the high-quality development of forestry and building a Chinese-style modernization in which man and nature coexist harmoniously.
Tang Fanglin disclosed that China has approximately 2.568 billion acres of collective forest land, accounting for 60% of the total forest area in the country. This land is distributed across more than 2,600 counties and involves over 100 million farmers. The collective forest reform was initiated in 2008 and has achieved significant progress. The reform has led to the creation of green hills throughout the country, increased income for farmers, and improved their quality of life.
In recent years, China has focused on confirming and issuing certificates for collective forest land rights. Over 100 million forest rights certificates have been issued nationwide, achieving the goal of “mountains determine rights, trees determine roots, and people determine hearts.” This effort has led to a significant improvement in forest quality. The volume of collective forests has increased by nearly 3.9 billion cubic meters compared to the pre-reform period, showing an increase of almost 85%. Additionally, the reform has cultivated nearly 300,000 new forestry management entities, improving income levels for individuals involved in the industry.
In a recent example of the positive impact of the collective forest rights system, Jiangle County in Fujian Province signed a contract worth 300,000 yuan ($44,170) for 20,000 tons of forestry carbon tickets with a company from Shanghai.
Deng Wanfu, secretary of the Party branch of Changkou Village in Sanming City, Fujian Province, expressed satisfaction with the new opportunities brought by the vigorous development of the green economy. The development of green initiatives such as forestry carbon sinks, forest health care, and vacation tourism has given villagers new income-generating opportunities. In Changkou Village, the collective income has increased from less than 30,000 yuan ($4,420) more than 20 years ago to 1.85 million yuan ($272,540). In 2022, the village is expected to receive approximately 50,000 tourists.
Tang Fanglin highlighted that collective forests are crucial for improving carbon sinks, maintaining ecological security, and supporting rural revitalization. To further enhance the development of collective forestry and meet new requirements, the reform of the collective forest rights system needs to be deepened.
According to Tang Fanglin, the “Plan” focuses on four key elements: stability, dynamism, integration, and trial. “Stability” ensures the long-term stability of the contracting relationship for collective forestland, giving forest farmers assurance. “Dynamism” aims to stimulate vitality by activating forest land management rights and revitalizing forest resource assets. “Integration” seeks to promote the mutual development of resource management and industrial development. Finally, “trial” supports the first trial and encourages pilot areas to explore and deepen the reform of the collective forest rights system.
Experts point out that the advancement of this plan indicates that forestry carbon sinks will enter the “carbon market” at an all-round speed. China will explore and improve the value realization mechanism of ecological products. Qualified forestry carbon sink projects will develop into voluntary greenhouse gas emission reduction projects and participate in market transactions. Additionally, China will establish and improve the forestry carbon sink measurement and monitoring system, as well as introduce forestry carbon sink management measures to realize the value of forestry carbon sinks.
This announcement signifies China’s commitment to promoting sustainable forestry practices, protecting the environment, and harnessing the economic potential of collective forests. With the implementation of the “Plan for Deepening the Reform of the Collective Forest Rights System,” China aims to create a synergistic relationship between man and nature and achieve its vision of Chinese-style modernization.