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China’s Grain-for-Green Program, the world’s largest reforestation effort

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

China’s Grain-for-Green Program, the world’s largest reforestation effort, has transformed 69.2 million acres of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest. Yet, the program overwhelming leads to the planting of monoculture forests (the eucalyptus forest, Japanese cedar forest and bamboo forest pictured above), falling short of restoring the biodiversity of native forests — and can even harm existing wildlife.
Credit: Fangyuan Hua

 

Seeing the forest for the trees: World’s largest reforestation program overlooks wildlife

Date:
September 7, 2016
Source:
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Summary:
New research found that China’s reforestation program, the world’s largest, overwhelmingly leads to the planting of monoculture forests that fall short of restoring the biodiversity of native forests — and can even harm existing wildlife. The researchers found, however, that multi-species forests could be planted without detracting from the economic benefits China’s poor and rural citizens receive for replanting forests.

After years of environmental destruction, China has spent billions of dollars on the world’s largest reforestation program, converting a combined area nearly the size of New York and Pennsylvania back to forest.

The government-backed effort, known as the Grain-for-Green Program, has transformed 28 million hectares (69.2 million acres) of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest in an effort to prevent erosion and alleviate rural poverty. While researchers around the world have studied the program, little attention has been paid to understanding how the program has affected biodiversity until now.

New research led by Princeton University and published in the journal Nature Communications finds that China’s Grain-for-Green Program overwhelmingly plants monoculture forests and therefore falls dramatically short of restoring the biodiversity of China’s native forests, which contain many tree species. In its current form, the program fails to benefit, protect and promote biodiversity.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.