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Speech by Mr. ZHU Lieke ,Vice Minister of State Forestry Administration of China at the High-Level Segment of UNFF9

2011-02-02 09:59

Honorable Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is the Eve of Chinese Lunar New Year. On this occasion, I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, wish you all a happy new year and a great success of UNFF9! I would also like to wish that the UNFF could embrace a more prosperous year, especially when the International Year of Forests comes.

Forest resources are an important material basis for the existence and development of the mankind. Therefore, the great importance attached by the Chinese government can be demonstrated by the following three aspects: First, the pace of afforestation has been accelerated and forest resources have been growing continuously. From 2003 to the end of 2008, the net increase of the national forest area amounted 20.543 million ha. The national forest cover rose from 18.21% to 20.36%, with a net growth of the forest stock volume of 1.123 billion cubic meters. Second, ecological conservation has been comprehensively enhanced and the shelter zone for safeguarding ecological security has basically come into being. Efforts have been strengthened to develop forest ecosystems, distinctively intensify wetland ecosystems, prominently improve desert ecosystems, and biodiversity conservation has yielded pronounced effects. Third, forest industries have undergone rapid development and played an outstanding role in improving livelihoods and eradicating poverty. The total output value of forest industries increased from 840 billion yuan in 2005 to 2.08 trillion yuan in 2010. Among the total income of many farmers living in mountain areas, at least 60% comes from forestry. Forestry has become an important approach to enriching farmers.

Mr. Chairman,

The theme of this session is “Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication.” China considers that, forest resources are an important asset to farmers and are also a major capital that farmers can use to develop production. China will continue to take forestry development as a major measure to improving livelihoods and eradicating poverty. Hereinafter, I would like to brief you on that:

First, making collective forest tenure reform and establishing the property basis for sustainable forest management. At the early stage of the reform and opening up, China implemented the household contract responsibility system and has successfully fed its 1.3 billion people. The ongoing collective forest tenure reform has become another dramatic transformation of the rural economic system succeeding the adoption of the household contract responsibility system. The collective forest tenure reform is, by definition, on the premise of maintaining the collective ownership, to contract the management right of 180 million ha of forests and hundreds of millions of forest assets to 300 million farmers according to law, so as to establish farmers’ main position as contract managers of forestland and ensure that farmers benefit from it. Currently, 149 million ha of collective forests have been allocated to farmer households and 68.25 million households have obtained the Certificate of Forest and Forestland Tenure Right. On average, each household has been allocated a forest asset worth of 100,000 yuan. Endowed with that means of production and capital for management, the farmers cultivate forest resources, develop non-timber forest products, run distinctive industries and conduct mutually-benefiting cooperation. Their income multiplied accordingly. Currently, the reform has benefited more than 300 million farmers.

Second, establishing and improving the enabling policy system to intensify forestry, and offering fund safeguard to enrich farmers. On one hand, the public fiscal system in support of forestry development has been established and improved. Investment into infrastructure construction in forest areas has been increased. The policy of subsidizing cost of seedling, planting, tending, protection and management has been adopted. Favorable policies on forest-related tax and fee have been implemented. From 1998 to 2010, China’s annual government investment into forestry at all levels rose from 11.2 billion yuan to 131 billion yuan, increasing by 10.7 times. On the other hand, forestry finance backup system has been established and improved, pilot efforts have been made in subsidizing forest insurance premiums and forest tenure mortgage loan has been granted, so as to constantly enlarge forestry investment and promote the self-development of forestry through the market mechanism. In 2010, forest-related loans nationwide amounted to 120 billion yuan. At the same time, socialized forestry service system has been established and improved. Great endeavors have been taken to vigorously develop such forestry cooperative organizations as famer’s forestry cooperatives, household cooperative forest farms and share-holding forest farms.

Third, innovating forestry development mechanisms and enabling farmers to get economic benefits from ecological conservation. In 2004, China launched a system of compensating forests’ ecological benefits and the central budget provided an annual compensation of 75 yuan per ha to public-benefit forests of national priority owned by rural collectives and individuals. Since 2010, the rate of the annual compensation has doubled to 150 yuan per ha.

Fourth, driving “macro forestry development” by implementing “major forestry programs”, and lifting famers “out of poverty soon”. The implementation of the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Program has helped to double the forest cover in target areas. In the Natural Forest Protection Program, a total area of 108 million ha of natural forest has been effectively protected. In the Program of Converting Farmland to Forests and Grassland, a series of measures including converting farmland to forests or grassland, subsidizing the participating farmers in cash and grain and making ecological relocations, have been adopted. As a result, in addition to the increased forest cover and improved ecological environment, the program has also distinctively increased the farmer’s income and facilitated the farmers to shake off poverty.

The experience of Chinese forestry sector in eradicating poverty and enriching farmers can be summarized into the following three points: First, a modern forest tenure system based on the household contract responsibility system has been established. Through the implementation of that system, farmers have acquired guaranteed long-term contracted management right of collective forests and forest assets, which has enhanced farmers’ willingness and courage to make investment into forests that they own. Second, a policy system of facilitating, benefiting and caring for people has been established and the infrastructure in forest areas has been improved, which has safeguarded farmers’ efforts in developing forestry production. Third, major forestry programs have been implemented. By absorbing more famers to participate in tree planting and forest tending, the programs have created more employment opportunities and sources of income for forest famers.

Mr. Chairman,

As a support to the UNFF, especially in regard to implementing the Non-legally Binding Instrument on All types of Forests (hereinafter referred as the Forest Instrument) and fulfilling our political commitments on sustainable forest management, in addition to the above-mentioned actions and measures, the Chinese government will also actively carry out international cooperation activities. At the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, the Chinese President Hu Jintao promised, “China will make great endeavors to increase forest carbon sinks and strive to increase the national forest area by 40 million ha by 2020 as against 2005. The forest stock volume will be increased by 1.3 billion cubic meters.” In the Billion Tree Campaign initiated by the international community, thanks to its National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign, China contributed 2.6 billion trees to the global campaign, facilitating the fulfillment of the global objective -- Planting 7 billion trees. At the 15th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2007, co-sponsored by the United States and Australia, China proposed the initiative of the Asia-Pacific Network on Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet). Now the Network has been launched and is in operation. In 2009, the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) in Support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) was hosted by China in Guilin, Guangxi Province, in which recommendations and actions for promoting the implementation of the Forest Instrument were formulated.

On the occasion of the International Year of Forests, as a response to the international efforts, China will hold the APEC Forest Ministerial Meeting, organize the Asia-Europe High Level Dialogue on Forest and Climate Change and host the 24th Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission and 2nd Forest Week. A series of publicity and celebration activities, including the 30th Anniversary of the National Compulsory Tree Planting Campaign, will be conducted.

Mr. Chairman,

After nearly two decades’ concerted efforts of the international community, the international forest issues have evolved from the 21 Agenda and the Forest Principles adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Conference (UNCED) in 1992, to the resolution of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on establishing the UNFF, and then to the adoption of the Forest Instrument in 2007. It should be mentioned that consensus on forests are growing and the political commitments on forests are becoming clearer in the international community. For the sake of further advancing the work of the UNFF, I would like to make the following recommendations:

First, the international community shall realize that, the reduction of the global forest area from 7.6 billion ha at the earlier stage of human civilization to the current 3.8 billion ha, has exacerbated the ecological crisis featured by land desertification, soil and water erosion, shortage of freshwater, loss of species and climate change. Thus, the ecological, social and economic values of forests shall be further acknowledged, especially its significant role in handling such major issues as addressing climate change, safeguarding ecological and food security, tackling energy crisis, improving ecological environment and eradicating poverty. When sustainable forest management is achieved, remarkable welfare will be brought about to the mankind by forests.

Second, efforts shall be made to enhance the UNFF’s role in international coordination. Adequate importance shall be attached to the implementation of the Forest Instrument and the fulfillment of the four global objectives on forests. Synergies between the international forest issues with the Three Rio Conventions shall be enhanced. Forests’ major role in and contribution to addressing climate change, conserving biodiversity and controlling land degradation and desertification shall be fully recognized.

Third, values and functions of forests shall be assessed in a comprehensive and objective manner. Forest products and services shall be integrated. The economic, social and environmental benefits of forestry shall be combined. Exaggeration of any specific function of forests shall be avoided. And the foundation of forestry development shall be established in sustainable forest management itself.

Fourth, the tempo of resolving the means of implementation of the Forest Instrument – forest financing, shall be accelerated. That is essential to the effective implementation of the Forest Instrument and is also an important element for the international community to determine, whether or not, to negotiate on the legally-binding forest instrument before 2015. Therefore, all the countries shall present their sincerity and political will in order to accelerate the settlement of this issue and explore feasible approaches for the next step development of the international forest issues.

Fifth, the 2011 International Year of Forests and 2012 Rio+20 shall be taken full advantage, so as to create an enabling international political environment to elevating the international standing of the international forest issues and lay a more solid foundation for its further development.

The Chinese government sincerely hope that, through the concerted efforts of all the countries, positive contributions could be made to promoting the implementation of important documents including the Forest Instrument, fulfilling the four global objectives on forests soon, promoting sustainable forest management, bringing into play the significant role of forests in eradicating poverty and improving livelihoods, and safeguarding the global ecological security.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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