BEIJING -- China has spent more than 300 billion yuan ($47.3 billion) in 20 years in protecting natural forests, according to sources with State Forestry Administration.
As a key measure initiated by the State Council after severe floods hit the valleys of the Yangtze River and Songhua River in 1998, natural forest protection project was implemented in 16 provinces, including Heilongjiang, Jilin, Hebei, Yunnan, Hunan and Liaoning.
So far, about 129.6 million hectares of natural forest has been well protected, according to an official in charge of natural forest protection.
Logging of natural forest has been completely banned in these regions.
State-owned forestry bureaus in key protection areas received subsidy of 15 million yuan each annually to sustain their daily operation.
Boasting the fifth largest forest area in the world, China aims to expand its forest cover to more than 23 percent by 2020 to combat climate change and soil erosion. The forest coverage was 21.7 percent at the end of 2016.
An increase of 1.4 percentage points means the forest volume rising by more than 1.3 billion cubic meters, supporting China"s climate change obligation to add around 4.5 billion cubic meters of forest by 2030.