From loggers to guardians of the forests

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China has stepped-up afforestation efforts and completely stopped the commercial logging of forests in the past decade.

Large-scale tree planting projects have been carried out all over the country, with a total of 1.17 billion mu (193 million acres) of new trees and grass planted.

Millions of local people living in forest areas have seen their lives change, going from loggers to guardians of the trees. During this transition, the carbon mission trading mechanisms and poverty alleviation programs have played an important role.

In Changkou Village, Fujian Province, a total of 3,197 mu of forests have been certified, equivalent to a reduction of 12,000 tons of carbon emissions. Carbon trading was carried out last May, with a profit of more than 140,000 yuan ($20,802).

According to Zhang Linshun, secretary of Changkou Village, in addition to the benefits of carbon trading, the forest protection initiative has improved the environment, enabling the village to develop ecofriendly industries, and the per capita annual income of villagers has increased by 29,000 yuan.

In Shangqin Village, Guangxi Province, Li Shicai, a former impoverished villager, is now a forest ranger, receiving a subsidy of 10,000 yuan per year. In his spare time, he also plants anise and raises cattle, which has helped his family climb out of poverty.

More than one million people across the country have been lifted out of poverty by serving as forest rangers like Li.

Last May, the State Council issued the Guiding Opinions on Scientific Greening to further promote the quality of afforestation. “In the past, we focused on expanding the area and the quantity, but now we need to increase the quality” said Liu Dongsheng, deputy director of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA).

SFGA has approved 36 national-level forest and grass varieties, and released the Main Grass Species Catalog last year, and 28 provinces have also issued catalogues of native tree species to guide grassroots organizations to choose suitable vegetation for planting.