Ever the one to go big or go home, Chinese officials have briefed reporters on a new massive greening campaign that will create Belgium-sized forests every year for the next five years.
Additionally, the country’s national park and forest system will be expanded, new green corridors will be created to reconnect fragmented populations of wildlife, and greater crackdowns on the illegal trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products will be enforced.
Li Chunliang, vice-chairman of the State Forestry and Grasslands Commission, announced the addition to the recent five-year plan at a press briefing, stating that, “By 2035, the quality and stability of national forest, grassland, wetland and desert ecosystems will have been comprehensively upgraded.”
14,000 square-miles (35,000 square kilometers) of new forest will go up every year, particularly in drought-prone regions of the North and West.
The nation has also detailed that the strategy will be based around “natural reforestation,” from which one might guess it will have learned from the mistakes of the “Green Great Wall” which attempted to stop desertification near the Gobi Desert, but which was largely a failure due to monocrop planting, with billions of planted trees dying from moisture or from beetle infestations.
Amazingly, five of these Belgium forests will increase total forest coverage in the country by less than 2%, but in a culture like China, which for decades has existed in the paradox of matching traditions like Buddhism, folk medicine, and a deep reverence for national animals with breakneck economic development and conquering of the natural world, every little bit counts.
Forests planted in the north could expand the habitat of the Siberian tiger, a staple of painting and one of the five animal styles in Kung Fu, while forests planted in the west could be a hope for survival of the Gobi bear, the most endangered species of bear on Earth. That’s good news all-round.