President Xi emphasizes importance of forest protection during visit to Heilongjiang
May 24, 2016
On May 23rd 2016 China’s President Xi Jing Ping emphasized the importance of forest protection and the ban on commercial logging in natural forests during a visit to YiChun in Heilongjiang Province. Xi’s visit ties back to China’s State Forest Administration (SFA) plans to ban commercial logging in all natural forests by 2017. The government has also reduced logging quotas in plantation forests by 6.3% for 2016 – 2020. The logging restrictions are a continuation on a series of previous commercial logging bans introduced since 1998 as part of the National Forest Protection Program (NFPP), which aim to combat deforestation.
One of the purposes of Xi’s visit to Yichun demonstrates solidarity to local residents, whose livelihood relies on logging. The government has allocated an annual budget of RMB 2.35 billion (USD 379 million) to support the loss of jobs in such forest communities.
Impact of the logging ban unclear
The full impact of the planned logging ban is still unclear. Natural forests account for approximately 49 million m3 of China’s total annual timber production of 84.38 million[i]. While it is likely the restrictions on domestic supply will increase imports; some analysts report the majority of wood affected will be hardwood species.
There are two major areas of uncertainty regarding the impact. The first is the volume of softwood this will cover. Secondly, the degree to which the logging ban will be enforced is unclear as Central Government will rely on regional officials to implement the bans. While local government officials will be measured on the implementation of the policy,
“Forest Trends” anticipates both illegal and legal logging, such as forest thinning, will continue in natural forests[ii].
Canada Wood will continue to work with local Chinese stakeholders to assess and quantify the impact logging bans.