Practical Demonstration of Sustainable Forest Management in Jiangxi Province, P.R. China

ECO Consult since early 2013 implements the Sino-German Project Valorization of Ecosystem Services of Commercial Forests in Sub-tropical Regions of China, on behalf of Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Implemented jointly with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and East China Normal University (Shanghai), the project’s focus is on transforming forest plantations into healthier and more structurally diverse mixed forests.

China adheres to the concept of “classified” forest management, meaning spatial segregation of forest functions between Ecological Public Benefit Forests and commercial forests. While the former are mostly non-managed, the latter consist of even-aged monocultures of a very limited set of commercially significant tree species, managed for maximized timber production and financial returns with short rotation cycles.

Forests of this type face a range of challenges, including the dominance of small-dimensioned, low quality/value timber, low stocking volumes, deterioration of forest soil fertility as well as significant GHG emissions from the burning of logging debris, and disproportionately high management risks. The near-total destruction of about 18 million ha of forests during a freak ice-storm event in 2008 underscored the need for more ecologically sound (and economically viable) ways of forest management.  

Responding to this, the project promoted improved management concepts through capacity development, knowledge transfer, and upscaling. Operating in three pilot-sites in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Zhejiang, the project since 2013 addressed framework conditions and requirements of close-to-nature multi-purpose forest management and forest sector planning. In its first year, Chinese stakeholders many times underscored the need for practical observation and demonstration of SFM routines, including aspects of stand-wise silvicultural planning, organization and execution of management operations, and labor safety.

In May 2014 ECO Consult organized a practice-oriented training exercise at Qianyanzhou Ecological Research Station and Shixi State Forest Farm (Taihe County, Jiangxi Province). The program concluded with a multi-stakeholder Workshop attended by close to 50 decision makers, forestry professionals, practitioners and scientists. Practical demonstrations showcased the full gamut of stand-wise management, with a distinct focus on field-work and direct involvement of participants.     

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