Illegal logging in protected forest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2011, 12:00am

Parts of natural forests in Sichuan, which are under the government's preservation programme, have been felled illegally, an environmental protection organisation said.

A Greenpeace survey found that there were felled fir trees everywhere along an eight-kilometre-long valley of the Dengqu Trench in Denglong town, Baiyu county, according to a statement released by the group yesterday - World Forest Day.

'The mountain there is steep and the soil loose,' said Yi Lan, director of Greenpeace's forest protection project. 'Logging there is likely to induce a landslide. These valuable woods could have preserved the water resources but are lying on the mountain and in the water now.'

The woods, located in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the west of Sichuan, consist almost entirely of spruces and firs of 40cm to 80cm in diameter and some even of 100cm in diameter and as high as 20 metres.

'It takes at least 100 years for them to grow this big in such a cold area of high altitude, and even if we make amends by planting more trees, it will still be difficult to regain the vegetation,' Yi said.

The forest is considered one of the best preserved in the country and is home to numerous wild animal species.

'The number of endangered white-eared pheasants has improved in recent years, but now they have to live in a damaged forest,' Yi said.

The State Council decided in December to start a 10-year forest preservation plan to try to increase the natural forest area by 5.2 million hectares by 2020. It said commercial logging of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the upper and middle range of the Yellow River must be stopped.

Forests in Sichuan are within the preservation area, and logging should be strictly controlled, it said.

Greenpeace said in 2006 after a three-year global survey of satellite images that only 2 per cent of the mainland's total forest resources were intact primeval forests.