China: Leading world in treeplanting means leading world in greenwashing biodiversity’s decline

Every March 12 an estimated 3m party members, civil servants, model
workers, and state leaders take up shovels for the country’s biggest
green propaganda event. As well as raising awareness, they are
fulfilling a legal duty for everyone over the age of eleven to plant
at least three Poplar, Eucalyptus, Larch or other saplings every year.

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Many are planted in the northern shelterbelt, also known as the Great
Green Wall. Initiated in 1978, the tree belt is supposed to stretch
4,480 km from western Xinjiang to eastern Heilongjiang to protect
cities and cropland from floods and the desert.

If the plan is completed as scheduled in 2050, trees will cover over 400m hectares or 42% of China’s landmass, creating arguably the biggest man-made carbon sponge on the planet. But the mind-boggling statistics mask a calamitous decline of China’s forest quality, diminishing biodiversity and extra pressure on woodland overseas to satisfy an appetite for timber that has – until the economic crisis – grown enormously in the  past 10 years.

The biggest supplier by far is Russia, which provides 60% of the logs that come into China. As buildings go up in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, the vast Taiga boreal forests of Siberia are being flattened.

At current harvesting rates, the Russian far east could be logged out in 20 years, according to a study by the Beijing Forestry University. Chinese conservationists say the emphasis on forests as mere carbon sinks is wrong.

“The west is too focused on carbon. People there have lost sight of the need to protect bio-diversity,” warned a prominent environmentalist.

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Comments (1)

cobusJanuary 2nd, 2010 at 3:17 am

let it be example to all.well done

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