According to China’s sixth national forest resources survey (1999-2003), its forest area was 174.9092 million hectares, ranking fifth in the world, and its forest volume was 12.456 billion cubic meters, ranking sixth in the world. The forest coverage rate was 18.21 percent. China’s natural forest area (excluding Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Macao SAR and Taiwan Province) was 115.762 million hectares, forest volume was 10.593 billion cubic meters; plantation area was 53.2573 million hectares, and plantation volume was 1.505 billion cubic meters.
Varieties of trees There are more than 140 kinds of dominant coniferous trees, the most important being Pinus koraiensis, Abies, Picea asperata, Larix gmelinii, Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica, Pinus tabuliformis，Pinus armandii，Pinus hwangshanensis, Pinus massoniana, Pinus kesiya var. langbianensis, Pinus griffithii, Pinus elliottii, Pinus thunbergii Parl, Cunninghamia Lanceolata, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Cupressus funebris and Cathaya argyrophylla.
There are more than 400 kinds of dominant broadleaf trees, the most important of them being Fraxinus mandschurica, Juglans mandshurica Maxim, Tilia, quercus, Betula, populus, Salix babylonica, Ulmus, Paulownia, Phoebe, sassafras, Eucalyptus, Catalpa bungei, Styphnolobium japonicum, Robinia pseudoacacia, Ginkgo biloba, Camellia japonica, Melia azedarach, Juglans, Castanea and Ziziphus zizyphus.
Distribution of forest
China’s forest, natural forest in particular, is mainly distributed in the northeast, southwest and southeast of the country. When it comes to forest, people often think immediately of the Hinggan Mountains. This mountain range in China’s northeast is the biggest and most important area of natural forest. The Greater Hinggan Mountains Region is the northernmost and the most extensive coniferous tree region in China. With an overall area of 84,600 square km, the Hinggan Mountains region has forest area of 7.3 million hectares and a forest coverage rate of 78.64 percent. The standing tree volume exceeds 530 million cubic meters, accounting for 4.2 percent of the total volume for China. The region boasts many good quality tree species such as Korean pine, Pinus koraiensis and northeast China ash. Other main tree species are larch, birch and poplar. According to statistics, between 1964 and 2008, the Greater Hinggan Mountains region has supplied nearly 1.1 billion cubic meters of commercial timber.
The Lesser Hinggan Mountains Region, situated in the northeast of Heilongjiang Province, is also an important wood production base. The forest covers 2.8 million hectares, with forest coverage rate of 72.6 percent. Its standing tree volume is 240 million cubic meters. The forest type of the Lesser Xing’an Mountains is coniferous and broadleaf forest. The main tree species include Korean pine, dragon spruce, fir, Dahurian Larch, Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica, northeast China ash, Bhelodendron, Juglans mandshurica, poplar, (Chinese) linden, birch and elm. The region has been dubbed “the home of Korean pine” because its overall volume of Korean pine represents more than half of the national volume.
As well as the Hinggan Mountains, other important forest regions in China include:
Changbai Mountain Forest Region: The region is situated in the southeast of Jilin Province in China’s northeast. It has a mountain area of more than 8,000 square km, and forest area of 1.295 million hectares, 99,600 hectares of which are primary forest. There are more than 800 tree species, and a forest coverage rate of 62.4 percent, rising to 76 percent in the central belt. It is one of China’s major forest regions. Changbai Mountain has a well-preserved temperate zone primary forest eco-system. Coniferous and broadleaf forest, Korean pine and broadleaf forest, dark coniferous forest and Betula ermanii forest are vertically distributed. There are Korean pine, Pinus armandii, larch, northeast China ash, Bhelodendron, Juglans mandshurica, Tilia amurensis, birch, poplar and oak in the region. There are also rare tree species such as Pinus sylvestriformis and Kalopanax septemlobus in the region. Changbai Mountain is a rare and rich forest museum. The Changbai Mountain biosphere reserve is listed by UNESCO as a “World Biosphere Reserve.” Over the course of 30 years, the Changbai Mountain region has supplied more than 100 million cubic meters of commercial timber. In recent years, annual timber output from the region has averaged six million cubic meters, the second highest in China.
Southwest Forest Region: The southwest forest region lies southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, comprising mainly the Hengduan Mountains region where Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet meet and the southern slopes of the Himalayas. In terms of natural forest, it comes second only to the northeast forest region. This region has great differences of altitude and the climate changes according to the altitude. This leads to a great variety of tree species. The main parts of the forest are subalpine coniferous forest, and coniferous and broadleaf forest; its main tree species include dragon spruce, fir, Quercus semecarpifolia and Pinus yunnanensis.
Xishuangbanna Tropical Rainforest Nature Reserve: Situated in the south of Yunnan Province, this national-level reserve covers more than 240,000 hectares, of which 46,700 hectares are well-preserved primary forest. The rainforest, subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest, rare flora and fauna, and the entire forest ecology of the reserve are all very precious. It is China’s only well-preserved, continuous area of tropical forest, also its largest natural treasury of plants. There are more than 3,500 higher plant species, and more than 100 precious tree species. In addition, there are also rubber trees, Cinchona, oil palms and coconut plams in the area.
Shennongjia Primary Forest: The Shennongjia Forest Region is situated in the northwest of Hubei Province. It is China’s only administrative division to include “forest region” in its name. The forest coverage rate of Shennongjia is 88 percent. Within its boundaries lie a national-level forest and wild animal nature reserve and a national forest park. Forest covers an area of 161,800 hectares, with a standing tree volume of 20.19 million cubic meters. Wuyi Mountain Forest: The Wuyi Mountain National Nature Reserve is situated in the northwest of Fujian Province, in the northern part of the Wuyi range. It covers an area of 56,670 hectares, and has a forest coverage rate of 92 percent. Huanggang Mountain, located in the central area of the reserve, climbs through nearly 1,500 meters. Primary forest coverage rate is as high as 95 percent, which is rarely seen in other parts of China. A vertical succession of altitudinal belts — broadleaf forest, coniferous forest, upper montane forest, and upper montane meadow — creates a mid-subtropical mountain natural landscape Precious tree species such as ginkgo, Taxus chinensis and other species grow in the area.
Forest in Taiwan Province: More than half (52 percent) of Taiwan is covered by forest, with coverage of nearly 1.86 million hectares. The total timber volume is about 326 million cubic meters. The forest mainly comprises tropical and subtropical forest. There are more than 300 tree species with high economic value. Broadleaf forest and bamboo forest are the most widely distributed. In the east of the island camphor trees grow in large numbers and Taiwan accounts for two thirds of the world production of camphor. Mount Ali’s Chamaecyparis formosensis is also very famous and praised as “a divine tree.”