Five Year Plan for forests and grassland protection released

On Wednesday, China released its Forestry and Grassland Protection and Development Plan for 2021-2025.

The plan, containing 12 overarching goals, says China will increase forest coverage from 23.04% to 24% in the next five years. It will protect 55% of its wetland, a rise from 52% in 2020, and combat desertification in an area of 100 million mu (about 67,000km²). 

The plan sets the goal of protecting more than 18% of the country’s land area by the end of 2025, a proportion considered too conservative by some Chinese conservationists. As of the end of 2019, China had already established 11,800 nature reserves and other types of protected land, accounting for 18% of its landmass. 

A key proposed target of the UN’s “Global Biodiversity Framework”, to be negotiated in Kunming later this year, is to ensure at least 30% of Earth’s land and ocean is protected by 2030. Some Chinese conservationists argue that China should up the national target to at least 25% of protected land by 2030. 

China announced it would overhaul its national park system in 2017. It has established 10 pilot parks, including one for the giant panda and another for the Siberian tiger. According to the newly released plan, China will introduce a national park law and a new supervisory system to manage these parks. In addition, a few new national parks will be launched, including one surrounding the Qinling mountains, which divide the north and south of China, and another at the Yellow River estuary. 

The plan also mentions developing and strengthening the protection of 48 endangered species, including the Hainan gibbon (of which only 33 are thought to remain) and the green peacock (about 500 in the wild). 

Read our recent look-ahead at China’s 14th Five Year Plan for the marine environment