Map of China

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a unitary sovereign state in East Asia. With a population of over 1.381 billion, it is the world's most populous country. China's landscapes vary significantly across its vast width. In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grasslands predominate. Southern China is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas of China's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. High plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert. The world's highest point, Mount Everest (8,848m), lies on the Sino-Nepalese border. China's climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in China differs from region to region because of the country's highly complex topography. China is one of 17 megadiverse countries, lying in two of the world's major ecozones: the Palearctic and the Indomalaya. By one measure, China has over 34,687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the third-most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Colombia. A major environmental issue in China is the continued expansion of its deserts, particularly the Gobi Desert. Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of sandstorms, prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices have resulted in dust storms plaguing northern China each spring, which then spread to other parts of east Asia, including Korea and Japan. Water quality, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in China's relations with other countries. Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could potentially lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people. (Wikipedia)

Quick Facts

Land use

Total land area
938,821,100 hectares
Area of forest
22.2% of land area
Area of agriculture
54.8% of land area
Area of permanent cropland
1.7% of land area


1,371.2 million
Population growth
0.5% annually
Rural population

Economics and development

GDP per person
7924.70 USD
GDP from agriculture

Climate change and biodiversity

CO2 emissions
7.60 metric tonnes per person
Threatened animal and plant species
National Restoration Targets
Total restoration target
15,771,700 hectares
National Forest and/or Climate Strategy and/or Low Carbon Development Strategy
Restoration target
15,330,000 hectares
Second National Communication on Climate Change of The People’s Republic of China (2012)
  • China has taken a series of policies and actions on climate change adaptation (pg. 14):
    • Enhancing key project constructions for natural forest conservation, sand/dust source control for protecting Beijing and Tianjin, the Northwest, North and Northeast China shelter forests, and regional (e.g. Yangtze River Basin) shelter forests, Project on Conversion of Slopy Cropland into Forests; creating nature reserves in climate change sensitive areas, and enhancing protection and management of wetland ecosystems
    • Capacity building will be enhanced in adaptation to climate change, especially in coping with extreme climate events; development and deployment of adaptation technologies will be accelerated; and climate change adaptations in key sectors such as agriculture, forestry and water and in coastal and ecologically vulnerable areas will be improved. 
  • In 2009, the Chinese government announced that, by 2020 CO2 emission per unit of GDP will be reduced by 40-45% compared with 2005, the non-fossil energy will account for about 15% of the total primary energy consumption, the forest area will be increased by 40 million hectares and the forest stock volume will be increased by 1.3 billion m^3 relative to 2005 (pg. 14). 
  • Enhancing afforestation and forest management to increase forest carbon sinks (pg. 17):
    • China has maintained a continual growth in forest area and stock volume through a series of policies and actions on forest conservation and development to accelerate the forest tenure reform, to encourage nationwide voluntary tree-planting, to implement key afforestation projects, and to enhance sustainable forest management.  
    • In the 11th FYP period (, 24.67 million hectares of land were afforested, with 11.72 billion trees planted Compulsorily; the urban carbon sinks were increased through urban greening. 
    • During the 12th FYP period (2011-2015), China will continue to implement policies and actions on forest conservation and development. China’s forest area will be increased by 12.50 million hectares and its forest stock volume by 600 million m^3 through afforestation and sustainable forest management, striving for a forest coverage that will account for 21.66% of its total land. 
  • Forest resources: In 2008, China’s forest area was 195.45 million hectares with the total standing stock volume of 14.9 billion m3, among which the forest stock volume was 13.7 billion m3, accounting for 92% of the total. The area of forests plantation had increased to 61.69 million hectares, and the total forest coverage reached 20.36%. The total area of woodlands was 83,000 hectares (pg. 32).  
  • Continuously advancing sustainable forest management to increase carbon sink of the existing forest resources (pg. 123): During the 12th FYP period, it is planned to build young- and mid-aged forest tending areas and transform low-yield forest areas totaling 35 million hectares. Pilot projects on carbon sink-increasing through forest management will be actively initiated. The national strategy will be actively developed and implemented to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and to increase forest carbon stock through forest conservation and sustainable management. 
  • Actively pursuing collective forest-tenure reform to further motivate farmer’s initiatives in afforestation and forest conservation (pg. 119-120): Tenures for 168 million hectares of forest lands have been devolved to individual households, accounting for 92.23% of total collectively owned forest area nationwide. There are 82.2225 million households in rural areas that have obtained the forest-tenure certificates, and 300 million farmers have benefited from the reform. This policy has significantly increased farmers’ family assets, and greatly encouraged their enthusiasm for forest conservation and management through afforestation, which has provided the policy support to let forestry play a long-term and stable role in addressing climate change. 
  • Box 4-5 China’s policy on conversion of sloppy land into forest and its effectiveness (pg. 124) : According to statistics, in 1999-2009, through the projects on conversion of sloppy land into forest, 27.7 million-hectare forests had been built, with the forest cover in the project area which accounted for 82% of China’s total land increasing by more than 3%. These forests have not only significantly mitigated soil erosions, water runoff and sandstorm hazards in the project areas, reducing substantially sediments in the rivers, but they have also improved China’s capabilities for disaster prevention and mitigation in the project area, and for increasing its overall forest carbon sink. In return, the implemented policy on conversion of sloppy land into forest has provided 124 million relevant farmers with RMB 2000 Yuan subsidy per person from the central finance, accounting for 10% of per capita annual net income of these farmers. 
China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030)
  • Conservation priorities - For biodiversity conservation, China will: Improve the conservation of ecosystems such as tropical rainforests and tropical monsoon forests, south lower subtropical monsoon evergreen broad- leaved forests and coastal mangrove forests (pg. 20)
  • Project 18 - Conservation and ecological restoration of typical coastal and offshore marine ecosystems (pg. 44): 
    • Content: The project (with duration of 10 years) will: Establish marine protected areas in those coastal regions where mangrove forests, sea grass beds, coastal wetlands concentrate and important island ecosystems.
  • Project 20 - Mangrove forest ecosystem restoration (pg. 44-45):
    • Content: The project (with duration of 10 years) will: 
      • Develop a national plan for mangrove forest conservation and artificial restoration and implement ecological restoration programs for seriously degraded mangrove forest ecosystems.
      • Study and develop technologies for restoration and reconstruction of mangrove forest ecosystem to curb their degradation trend and to enhance their restoration. 
China's Twelfth Five Year Plan (2011-2015) - the Full English Version (Unofficial English Translation)
  • Chapter 3 - Main Targets: Forest coverage rate will increase to 21.66% and national forest stocks will increase by 600 million cubic metres (pg. 3).
  • Unit One: Control Greenhouse gas emissions: We will promote the planting of trees and forestation to increase the national forest-cover area to 12.5 million hectares (pg. 30).
  • Chapter 25 - Accelerate ecological protection and repair: We will reverse the trend of ecological degradation from the grassroots by implementing major ecological restoration and bolstering natural forest conservation and reforestation (pg. 33)
China Forestry Action Plan to Deal with Climate Change (2009)
  • In the action plan, three sequential goals were determined as
    • Up to 2010: annual mean afforestation area (including mountains for forest restoration) will be more than 4 million ha; nationwide forest coverage will be 20%; forest storage volume will be 13.2 billion cubic meters; key regions in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, which have harsh environments and experience soil and water loss and areas affected by serious desertification, will be basically controlled; the protected area of national key commonwealth forest will be increased to 51 million ha; 50% of natural wetland to be protected effectively; 50% of seeds and seedlings used for afforestation will be of high quality. Through the attainment of these goals, there will be an increase in the sequestration of carbon by forests.
    • From 2011 to 2020: the annual mean afforestation area (including mountains for forest restoration) will be more than 5 million ha; nationwide forest coverage will be 23%; forest storage volume will be 14 billion cubic meters; more than 50% of controllable sandy desertified land will be controlled; the protected area of national key commonwealth forest will increase to 110 million ha; more than 60% of natural wetland will be protected effectively; 65% of seeds and seedlings for afforestation will be high quality. At the end of year 2020, when compared with the figures of 2005, the forested area should have increased by 40 million ha and forest storage volume increased by 1.3 billion cubic meters. The forest carbon sequestration capacity should have also increased.
    • Up to 2050: net increase in forest area will be 47 million ha compared with the amount in 2020, nationwide forest coverage should be equal to or greater than 26%; typical ecosystems be better protected; all controllable sandified land to be controlled at a basic level; all the natural wetlands should be protected, restored, and managed wisely; 100% of seeds and seedlings for afforestation should be of high quality. At this stage the focus of forestry should be on sustainable forest management, and the forest carbon storage capacity relatively stable.
Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects
Restoration target
382,800 hectares
2634: Guangxi Integrated Forestry Development and Biodiversity Conservation (est. start 2006 – duration 6 years)
  • Finance: $5.6 M grant + $199.33 M co-financing = $204.93 M (pg. 1)
  • 200,000 ha timber plantations ($171.1 M) (pg. 4)
  • 118,000 ha increased forest cover ($18.67 M) (pg. 4)
    • 100,000 ha increased forest cover for watershed protection (1/3 enrichment planting & 2/3 ANR)
    • 18,000 multiple use forest plantation
2766: PIF - Integrated Ecosystem and Water Resources Management in the Baiyangdian Basin (2008-2013)
  • Finance: $2.975 M grant + $275.436 M co-financing = $278.411 M
  • 20,300 ha watershed reforestation (pg. 2)
3483: PIF - Forestry and Ecological Restoration in Three Northwest Provinces (formerly Silk Road Ecosystem Restoration Project) (2008-2014)
  • Finance: $1.1 M grant + $48.4 M co-financing = $49.5 M
  • 6-8 ecosystem restoration demonstration sites (PIF pg. 1)
5139: PIF - Sustainable Forest Management to Enhance the Resilience of Forests to Climate Change (2013 – duration: 72 months)
  • Finance: $7.1 M grant + $48.4 M co-financing = $55.5 M
  • 40,000 ha SFM (reforestation of damaged forests, restoration and silvicultural transformation of monoculture forests, and natural regeneration) (PIF pg. 2)
5142: PIF - Sustainable and Climate Resilient Land Management in Western PRC (2014 – duration: 3 years)
  • Finance: $3.65 M grant + $12.4 M co-financing = $16.05 M
  • 1,500 ha enrichment planting on forested land (PIF, pg. 2)
  • 3,000 ha SLM (pilot ecosystem restoration in agricultural, forest, grassland, and animal husbandry ecosystems) (PIF, pg. 8) 
Other (National Strategies and Plans, Rural Development Programs, Natura 2000 areas, projects, and goals)
Restoration target
58,900 hectares
World Bank Project -- Hunan Forest Restoration and Development Project (2013)
  • Timeframe: 2013-2019
  • Finance: $80 M world bank + $ 25.2 M non-bank sources = $115.2 M
  • Component 1- Reforestation: 58,900 ha by 2019 (HFRDP – page 2, 3)
    • Reforestation of denuded area: 27,700 ha
    • Degraded forest restoration: 18,600 ha
    • Assisted Natural Regeneration: 12,600 ha
  • Results to date
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