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Premier backs collective forest-rights ownership

CHINESE Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday demanded a drive to promote a collective forest-rights system to accelerate the development of the forestry industry.

Wen made the comments when he met participants of a national forestry conference, which aimed to study the sector's reform and promote the household contract system for collective forest land.

The State Council, or Cabinet, issued a statement last July that called for the introduction of a household contract system in the management of collective forest land and the ownership of wood.

The forest-rights reform is of similar historic significance to the contract responsibility system based on household management, Wen said.

According to local practitioners, the forest-rights reform has worked well to boost farmers' enthusiasm for production, increase their income, promote the development of agriculture and the rural economy and improve the environment, Wen said.

According to the State Council, production and management of forest land will be entrusted to farmers through 70-year contracts, while the nature of collective ownership remains unchanged. Users of such land can transfer, lease or mortgage the land.

The reform should be complete within five years.


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