AMBIO

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 828–831 | Cite as

Greening China Naturally

  • Shixiong Cao
  • Ge Sun
  • Zhiqiang Zhang
  • Liding Chen
  • Qi Feng
  • Bojie Fu
  • Steve McNulty
  • David Shankman
  • Jianwu Tang
  • Yanhui Wang
  • Xiaohua Wei
Synopsis

Abstract

China leads the world in afforestation, and is one of the few countries whose forested area is increasing. However, this massive “greening” effort has been less effective than expected; afforestation has sometimes produced unintended environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic consequences, and has failed to achieve the desired ecological benefits. Where afforestation has succeeded, the approach was tailored to local environmental conditions. Using the right plant species or species composition for the site and considering alternatives such as grassland restoration have been important success factors. To expand this success, government policy should shift from a forest-based approach to a results-based approach. In addition, long-term monitoring must be implemented to provide the data needed to develop a cost-effective, scientifically informed restoration policy.

Keywords

Afforestation policy Environmental degradation Evironmental restoration Reforestation Sustainable development 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (HJ2010-3) and the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams of “Ecosystem Processes and Services”. We thank Geoffrey Hart (Montréal, Canada) for editing an early version of this article.

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shixiong Cao
    • 1
  • Ge Sun
    • 2
  • Zhiqiang Zhang
    • 1
  • Liding Chen
    • 3
  • Qi Feng
    • 4
  • Bojie Fu
    • 3
  • Steve McNulty
    • 2
  • David Shankman
    • 5
  • Jianwu Tang
    • 6
  • Yanhui Wang
    • 7
  • Xiaohua Wei
    • 8
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation & CombatBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Southern Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceRaleighUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Cold and Arid Regions Environmental Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  5. 5.Department of GeographyUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  6. 6.The Ecosystems CenterMarine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  7. 7.The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and ProtectionThe Chinese Academy of ForestryBeijingChina
  8. 8.Earth and Environmental Science DepartmentUniversity of British Columbia OkanaganKelownaCanada

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