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China to implement ‘forest chief’ scheme nationwide to protect forest, grassland resources

Author  :  Gu Zhongyang     Source  :    People's Daily Online     2021-01-18

Photo shows mountains covered with thick forests in Xikeng village, Tancheng township, Yongfeng county, Ji’an, east China’s Jiangxi province, June 13, 2019. (Photo by Liu Haojun/People’s Daily Online)

China has recently issued a guideline on comprehensively implementing a “forest chief” scheme across the country, stating specifications for protecting and developing forest and grassland resources.

The “forest chief” scheme is aimed at establishing a long-term responsibility system featuring the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committees, joint responsibility of Party committees and governments, localities where forests and grasslands are located being responsible for taking care of them, collaboration among different government departments, full coverage, and treatment at the source, according to the guideline issued by the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

It centers on responsibilities of officials of the CPC committees and governments at all levels in protecting and developing forest and grassland resources.

Principal leaders of local Party committees and governments should be appointed as “forest chiefs”, which are set up at various levels ranging from provincial level to village level according to actual conditions, said the guideline.

The “forest chief” scheme highlights key and difficult tasks in the protection and development of forest and grassland resources, and guarantees the performance of duties by establishing and improving relevant systems and enhancing supervision and evaluation.

China’s forest coverage rate stands at 23.04 percent, lower than the global average of 30.7 percent. The country’s per capita forest area is less than one third of that of the world.

In general, the situation of relatively insufficient total amount, poor quality and vulnerable ecosystems of forest resources in China hasn’t been fundamentally changed, and the lack of ecological products remains a prominent problem hindering the country’s sustainable development.

It is necessary for China to establish a strict system to protect and develop its forest resources while intensifying efforts to improve ecological environment of forests and grasslands.

Since 2017, east China’s Anhui province and Jiangxi province have taken the lead in implementing the “forest chief” scheme, building responsibility systems centering on the responsibilities of officials of Party committees and governments in protecting and developing forest resources, according to Guan Zhiou, head of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

So far, a total of 23 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in China have piloted the “forest chief” scheme, Guan added.

Nationwide implementation of the “forest chief” scheme is a prerequisite for safeguarding ecological security, said Guan, stressing that the scheme aims to strictly implement a red line supervision system for ecological protection, define clear boundaries for management and control of ecological space, and establish a new pattern for the development and protection of national territorial space, thus laying a solid foundation for ecological security.

By establishing the scheme, various regions of the country can clarify the areas and space, responsibilities, goals and tasks for ecological conservation and restoration, and better strengthen efforts to address regional and cross-regional problems in ecological conservation and restoration, Guan noted.

Meanwhile, the implementation of the “forest chief” scheme across the country is expected to enhance local responsibilities in ecological protection, fundamentally solve such problems as inadequate efforts and ambiguous assignment of responsibilities, and provide stronger guarantee for safeguarding ecological boundaries by making sure that every mountain, forest, and tree is taken care of by designated people, according to Guan.

In addition, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration is going to formulate methods to enhance supervision and evaluation of the performance of provincial-level “general forest chiefs” in accordance with requirements made by the central government, Guan pointed out.

The evaluation results of “forest-chiefs” at various levels will serve as important bases for the comprehensive performance evaluation of officials of Party committees and governments, Guan said, adding that those who are found to fail to fully fulfill their duties will be held accountable.

It’s expected that various government departments in all regions of the country will perform their own functions and work in collaboration with each other under the leadership of “general forest chiefs”, Guan said.

Editor: Yu Hui

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