China Plants Largest Man-Made Forest

Forest
Large Assegai tree - Curtisia dentata - in indigenous afrotemperate forest. South Africa.
(Photo: Abu Shawka / Wikimedia Commons)

In yet another history-making effort, China recently confirmed that it had successfully planted and nurtured a man-made forest so massive it is as big as the size of France. What is even more interesting about this history feat is that China was able to achieve this in one of the most isolated places on Earth, the Qinghai Tibet Plateau.

For hundreds of years, scientists believe that the Qinghai Tibet Plateau is a barren and desolate desert. The area is constantly bombarded by severe sand stores caused by outflows of dust from the desert nearby. Reports even claim that town as far as 70 kilometers is still affected by such storms.

While these factors alone is enough to deter anyone from planting trees, let alone grow it to become a forest, the Chinese Ministry of Forestry saw this is a noble undertaking, and it paid off handsomely in the end.

Now, the Qinghai Tibet Plateau is the area of a forest that covers around 30,000 hectares of trees. This was in part due to China's aggressive forestation program which dates back to about 30 years back. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forestry said that the country is now reaping the efforts which began way back in 1949. The spokesperson added that the results are impressive.

The Qinghai Tibet Plateau now stands not only as the world's largest man-made forest but also the world's biggest forestation accomplishment. The project helped increase China's forest coverage from 10.6 percent in 10.6 percent in 1949 to 15 percent recently. In total, this represents about 25 percent of the world's total afforested area.

Historians and scientists believe that China was once a highly forested area. However, due to recurrent wars, land reclamation projects, fires, and indiscriminate logging have severely affected the country's forested area. As a consequence, China's overall desert area including wastelands and denuded hills reached 240 million hectares in 1949. This represents about a fourth of the country's total land area.

In order to mitigate and prevent the total deforestation of the country, the government instituted a massive afforestation project. According to analysts, in order for China to maintain the 15 percent coverage of trees of its total land area, the country has to afforest 5.6 million hectares each year within the next 15 years. As such, it will take the country 25 to 30 years to completely plant all possible forested areas of the country.

Afforestation is the process of foresting an area with tree species that have never been known to grown in that particular area.

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