China’s first national ecological protection and poverty alleviation fund, the “Special fund for forestry and grassland ecological protection and poverty alleviation”, has been initiated by the State Forestry and Grassland Administration of China. The fund was announced on the 12th of March, the day that Arbor Day is celebrated in China. Arbor Day is a holiday observed by many countries, in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. In China it has fallen on the 12th of March since 1929.
17.5 million yuan were raised in sponsorship for the fund. The money will go to areas of “deep poverty”, areas of rocky desertification in Southwestern China and counties designated for targeted poverty alleviation. It will be used for ecological compensation, afforestation and poverty alleviation through ecological industrialization, aimed at improving ecological quality and winning the battle against poverty. The institutions that have sponsored the fund can benefit from tax credits for donations and have priority when deciding what projects the fund will be used for.
Li Chunliang, the deputy director of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, pointed out during the announcement ceremony that the China Green Carbon Foundation should manage and make good use of the poverty-alleviation fund. At the same time, it is crucial to make more social forces join in and participate in forestry and grassland protection and poverty alleviation. Besides, improving the conduct and supervision of the fund is also necessary.
The Forestry and Grassland Administration departments have made significant progress in poverty alleviation in recent years. Through the return of farmland to nature, the subsidies for grazing prohibitions and grass-animal balance and the reform of collective forest rights, the property and operating income of poor households has increased. More than 500,000 impoverished people have been hired as forest rangers and 1.8 million people have escaped poverty as the result of targeted poverty alleviation. In four designated poverty alleviation counties, Longsheng and Luocheng in Guangxi and Libo and Dushan in Guizhou, 68,400 people escaped poverty through this fund, matching funds and poverty-alleviation industries.