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November 18, 2009

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20% forest cover target hit early

CHINA'S forest coverage reached 20.36 percent by the end of last year, two years ahead of schedule in its goal to lift forest coverage to 20 percent by 2010, the State Forestry Administration announced yesterday.

China's forested area reached 195 million hectares by the end of last year, SFA Director Jia Zhibang told a press conference in Beijing.

He said the figure was up 2.15 percentage points, or 20.54 million hectares from the end of 2003, when it was about 175 million hectares.

According to the SFA, forest refers to woods covering an area more than 1 mu (0.667 hectares) with a crown density - the measure of skylight blocked by plant material - of at least 20 percent.

Man-made forest increased by 8.43 million hectares from 2004 to 2008 to 62 million hectares, more than in any other country in the world, according to a survey released at the conference.

President Hu Jintao pledged at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in September 2007 the country's forest coverage would reach 20 percent by the end of 2010.

However, China still faced major problems on forest protection and management, such as increased occupation and requisition of forest land, and illegal deforestation, Jia said.

China also lost 8.32 million hectares of forest, according to the survey.

Jia said the government would step up afforestation and protection of forest to meet Hu's commitment in September this year to combat climate change.

Hu told the United Nations climate change summit that China would endeavor to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares by 2020 to help offset greenhouse gas emissions.

"This commitment shows China is highly responsible in further combating climate change," said Zhang Jianlong, vice head of SFA. "It is by no means an easy goal to achieve for China because of the increasing cost for afforestation and the mounting difficulties for cultivating trees on poor soil in some areas."


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