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A STRATEGY TO BOOST CHINESE FOREST RESTORATION

According to experts, a more sustainable landscape-level approach to forest restoration with planted monoculture forests failing in many parts of the country will help China to meet present and future needs.

Experts explain that near Beijing, a project to restore a diversity of trees to a variety of land uses in the watershed of the Miyun Reservoir Basin is testing the potential of this alternative approach. This project has the objective to produce self-sustaining forests and parkland, welcoming a variety of tree species back to a variety of land uses, tailored to the local landscape, experts say.

The Chinese government has invested more than 500 billion RMB (US$70billion) in forest protection and restoration in the last ten years, creating more than eight million hectares of new forested land.

Data show that 60 per cent of Chinese forests, on a land area basis, are newly established.

Researchers outline that most of the restoration in China has occurred through the establishment of monoculture plantations that lack the diversity required for a fully functioning ecosystem.

This issue has raised doubts and concerns. Many critics have argued that monoculture plantations will not be resilient to climate change. Additionally, some experts have stressed that monoculture plantations will not provide the required services, as cleaner air and water, and natural forests.

In this contest, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has commissioned a final report that will show a full account of the health of Chinese monoculture forests.

Researchers have highlighted that pursuing afforestation through monoculture plantations will guarantee significant benefits including faster progress, easier planting, and simpler progress evaluation. The project will achieve durable and high-quality forested landscapes, experts add.

Studies show that Beijing is facing severe water shortages: it has lower per-capita water availability than some Middle Eastern countries. Also, over the last few years, Beijing’s water tables have decreased, so existing wells cannot tap them.

In this framework, a watershed-scale analysis of the Miyun region in partnership with Beijing Forestry Society and the international NGO Forest Trends will help to understand if restoring diverse trees across the landscape could increase the filtration, and potentially flow, of water heading for taps in Beijing.

Working with the dynamic nature of healthy ecosystems, and welcoming back trees within varied land uses, including in agricultural fields, protected forests, and alongside pastures, rivers and wetlands will play a central role. This aim will maximize the natural benefits of a restored landscape through a variety of different interventions, experts suggest.

 

The gLAWcal Team

EPSEI project

Saturday, 25 October 2014

(Source: ChinaDialogue)