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Status of China’s plantation forests
Asia Observatory

04 September 2009

Status of China’s plantation forests

According to the China’s Sixth Forest Inventory Report (covering 1999-2003), China’s forested area was 175 million hectares with the forest stock volume at 12.45 million m³. Forest coverage was estimated at 18%. Of the total forested area, the area of tree plantations in China was 53 million hectares. China’s plantation area was expected to expand rapidly due to high domestic demand.
Plantations play an important role in restoring and rebuilding the total forest ecosystem. They supply wood and non-wood products and help improve the ecoenvironment. The country’s plantations contain an estimated 1.5 billion m³ of standing volume and account for around 12% of the county’s total forest volume. Of the total plantation area, the forest area was 32.29 million hectares (60.64% of the total plantation area); cash tree crops, 19.31 million hectares (36.26%); and bamboo plantations, 1.65 million hectares (3.1%).
Of the standing forest plantations, the productive plantation area was 23.18 million hectares with a standing volume of 1.15 billion m³. Protective plantations covered an area of 8.12 million hectares and fuelwood plantations covered an area of 483,300 hectares (4 million m³ by volume). The area of forest for special uses is 514,600 hectares, with a forest volume of 31.12 million m³. Plantations for timber production accounted for the largest area and volume and these plantations account for around 70% of the total plantation area.
Plantation resources have been mainly distributed in the south of the country and mainly collectively owned forests. The following five provinces (regions) account for the bulk of the plantation areas, namely Guangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Fujian and Sichuan. The total area and volume of these five provinces accounted for 37.2% and 41.76% of the country’s total plantation area and volume, respectively. The main plantation species were Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), Masson’s pine (Pinus massoniana) and poplar (Populus spp.), these three species accounting for some 60% of all plantation areas in the country.
Source:ITTO Tropical Timber MarketReport