Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration. (Photo/China Daily)
China will redouble its efforts to build a beautiful country by further promoting the environmental development plan, which aims to achieve a forest coverage rate of 26 percent by 2035, according to Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration.
Zhang said the administration will strengthen the massive nationwide greening program, and aims to grow at least 6.7 million hectares of forest annually in the next 15 years.
"The program echoes people's emerging needs in the new era-a good environment and eco-friendly living conditions," Zhang said. "The forests will serve as buffer zones (by preventing sand from reaching residential areas, thus improving the environment) and help to build China into a beautiful country."
Since the 1970s, nine national forest resources surveys have been conducted, each lasting five years. The results have promoted better management and helped formulate policies to further protect resources.
In recent decades, the country's forest coverage has risen from 12.7 percent (1973-76) to 22.96 percent (2014-18), and the "forest growing stock"-the number of trees in nurseries-has grown by 102 percent to 17.5 billion cubic meters.
The nation's achievements in the field of afforestation were recognized in a study published by NASA earlier this year. It said China and India are leading the rise in global greenery, with China alone accounting for a quarter of the global net increase in leafy areas, despite being home to just 6.6 percent of the world's vegetated area.
Zhang said the administration will implement strict protection of forestry resources to meet the 2035 target.
Last month, it released the strictest-ever forest protection methods and banned all commercial logging nationwide. Moreover, forest land cannot be used for other purposes.
"China is rich in grassland resources. It has nearly 400 million hectares of natural grassland, accounting for 41.7 percent of the total. We will promote the environmental restoration of the grassland, while the protection and restoration of grassland resources will be strengthened," Zhang said.
He added that future measures will include determining a complete picture of grassland resources, assessing current policies and drafting a guideline to strengthen protection and restoration.
"Also, we will improve the survival rate of newly planted trees, and plant certain species in appropriate areas with the right techniques. The same guidance should also be adopted for grassland protection work," he said.
He also emphasized the importance of public participation in the greening program. "We are calling on the public and social organizations to join our efforts and 'green' the country in creative ways," he said.