Wood Frame Construction Featured in National and Local Five-Year Plans in China

By: Siqi Chen

Specialist, FII China

Following the release of China’s national 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) for Economic and Social Development, several sector-specific FYPs have been introduced at national levels, along with regional plans issued by provincial jurisdictions. Many of these plans show a growing recognition of the advantages of wood frame construction, with the common goal of achieving carbon neutrality and ecological protection through green development models.

The 14th Five Year Plan on the Protection and Development of Forestry and Grassland, released by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), together with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is centred on China’s carbon neutrality pledge and the commitment to increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from 2005 levels by 2030. Forest carbon sinks are being positioned to have a greater role for China to achieve carbon neutrality. Over the next five years, the forest coverage rate is expected to increase from 23.04% to 24.1%, and forest stock volume from 17.56 billion to 19 billion cubic meters.

China aims to reduce emissions and increase biological carbon sequestration by developing forest biomass energy and promoting wood and bamboo as alternative low-carbon materials. The NFGA underlined that wood structures and bamboo structures will be prioritized in regions where conditions are met to reduce carbon emissions that result from the production and use of high-carbon emission construction materials such as steel and cement. Accordingly, support will be given to further develop wood and bamboo structures and construction materials. Updates regarding forest management and harvesting regulations are under development as the NFGA is currently collecting opinions for the revision of the Implementation Regulation of the Forest Law.

Moreover, NFGA’s plan clarified that the area of nature reserves including national parks is expected to surpass 18% of the total land area by 2025, with the first national park law also in the pipeline. China will continue to build its national parks system to improve the management of nature reserves and this will include infrastructure improvements such as educational facilities, campgrounds, and natural sites, which are suitable for the application of wood frame construction. For these programs, international exchanges are encouraged, and Canada was highlighted by NFGA as one of the main partners for bilateral cooperation.

At the provincial level, Hainan, Anhui, and Jiangsu Province have rolled out their own plans for buildings and the construction sector, including prefabricated buildings with specific mentions of promoting wood frame construction. Hainan will explore prefabricated steel structures and wood structures suitable for rural residential houses. Anhui will apply prefabricated steel structures and wood structures in characteristic towns, beautiful villages, and the renovation of rural houses. Jiangsu will “actively promote prefabricated wood frame construction” over the next five years. These provisions are consistent with policies that have promoted building prefabrication since 2016, indicating the wider application of wood frame construction.

As China shifts to a more social and climate-friendly development model, wood as a sustainable construction material is increasingly recognized by policymakers and industry representatives. We look forward to building on this momentum and fostering new collaborations with Chinese stakeholders to realize a carbon-neutral future.