China plans to plant 26 billion trees over the next 10 years, or two trees annually for every Chinese, to greatly boost its environmental credentials, a senior forestry official said Tuesday.
An average of 650 million people, or half of China's population, will be mobilized every year to fulfil the goal, Zhang Yongli, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said at a press conference marking the 30th anniversary of the country's nationwide voluntary tree-planting campaign.
In the first 11 months of this year, about 614 million Chinese have participated in voluntary afforestation across the country, planting 2.51 billion trees to cover areas of 6 million hectares, according to the State Forestry Administration.
The ambitious plan comes at a moment when China vows to increase its "forest carbon sink capacity," the use of its forested areas to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby helping to address global climate change.
According to a white paper released in November, China has planned a series of ecological protection projects, such as the key shelterbelt construction in northern China and along the Yangtze River, and schemes to return farmland to forest, protect existing forests and control sandstorms in the Beijing and Tianjin areas.
The government has also pledged to continue broader pilot projects in carbon sink afforestation, including turning grazing area back to grassland, according to the white paper on China's policies and actions for addressing climate change.