The new Forest Law has improved China¡¯s timber harvesting framework


China’s new Forest Law preserves the system of forest harvesting quota but revises five key aspects. 

Firstly, the authority for harvesting quota approval has been devolved from the State Council to provincial governments. Previously, harvesting quota had to be sent to the State Council for approval after review by the provincial government. According to the New Forest Law, harvesting quota, developed based on recommendations from the Forestry Department of the State Council only need to be reported to the State Council after approval at provincial level. This change enables the local governments to develop harvesting quota according to local realities and enables the State Council to monitor the dynamics of forest resources. 

Secondly, harvesting permits are no longer required for harvesting bamboos outside nature reserves.

Thirdly, the procedures for permit application and issuing have been simplified.

Fourthly, the new Forest Law provides a legal basis for protective harvesting by including provisions for pest control, fire prevention, and dealing with natural diseases in ecological forests and nature reserves. 

Fifthly, forest management plans acquire stronger legal significance. According to new Forest Law, state owned forest companies and institutions are required to develop forest management plans. Forest management units that failed to develop forest management plans or failed to conduct forest management activities according to the forest management plans approved by the authorities would bear corresponding legal responsibilities. The government is also mandated to support and guide other types of forest management units to develop their forest management plans. The Forestry Department of the State Council is mandated to formulate methods for guiding the development of forest management plans. 

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