Demonstrating sustainable forest management and restoration in southern China

Project title: Demonstration of sustainable forest management and restoration in hilly and low mountain areas of southern China [Project ID: 2016P2-CAF]
Executing agency: Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry
Implementing agency: Forestry Department of Anhui Province through Qingyang Forestry Bureau, and Forestry Department of Zhejiang Province through Lin’an Forestry Bureau
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 1,410,27/695,207
Duration: 48 months from April 2017 
Location: Qingyang, Anhui Province; Lin’an, Zhejiang Province, China
Objectives: Promote sustainable forest management and demonstrate effective forest restoration and rehabilitation approaches for degraded forests in hilly areas of southern China.
Expected outputs: Effective technical methods and strategies for sustainable forest management (SFM) and restoration of forests at the landscape level will be developed and demonstrated; Carbon accounting methodology for SFM and restoration at the project level will be established; Exchange of knowledge and experience in SFM and restoration in the Asia-Pacific region will be promoted.

Project background
Hilly areas of southern China enjoy favourable humid and thermal conditions and have great potential to carry forests with high productivity and biodiversity. However, due to rapid population growth coupled with the development of agriculture, as well as improper forest management, the degradation of forest resources in China has accelerated. Forests in hilly areas of southern China are severely degraded and vulnerable to soil erosion due to steep slopes and high rainfall. They are also much more difficult to restore after degradation or deforestation. In 2017, APFNet launched the project “Demonstration of sustainable forest management and restoration in hilly and low mountain areas of southern China” in Anhui and Zhejiang provinces. A series of forest restoration and management methods will be demonstrated taking into account both forest ecological restoration and local livelihood improvement.

Project featured topics 
Forest restoration models in hilly areas
To test and demonstrate the best restoration approaches, the project first carried out comprehensive baseline surveys to analyse the main drivers of forest degradation in different demonstration sites. A specific restoration plan which combines sustainable forest management principles and local people’s willingness would be developed for each site, based on the survey results. In total, the project will showcase the following five different restoration models in 150 ha of degraded forests.

1. Enrichment planting in stony mountain areas
 ♦  Enrichment planting of Pteroceltis tatarinowii Maxim (750 seedlings/ha), which could be used for producing Chinese art paper and help soil erosion control, in Pteroceltis tatarinowii Maxim. + Platycladus orientalis L. Franco + Erythrina variegata Linn. plantations.
 ♦  Enrichment planting of Liquidambar formosana Hance (300 seedlings/ha), which is an ornamental species that could produce resin and timber in the short term, in Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook + Liquidambar formosana Hance plantations.
2. Close-to-nature forest management of Chinese fir
 ♦  Transform monoculture Chinese fir plantations into mixed forests through planting broadleaf tree species (Phoebe chekiangensis and Sassafras tzumu).
 ♦  Increase the production of Chinese fir plantations for cultivating large-diameter timber.
3. Intensive farming of bamboo forest
 ♦  Bamboo timber forest: Increase the production of bamboo timber by adjusting bamboo forest structure.
 ♦  Bamboo shoot forest: Increase the production of bamboo shoot by winter shoot cultivation.
4. Multi-purpose restoration of Torreya agrandis
 ♦  Traditional management of Torreya agrandis model
 ♦  Ecological management of Torreya agrandis model
 ♦  Tending of new Torreya agrandis
 ♦  Planting of Torreya agrandis forest road (425 m)
5. Agroforestry using hickory
 ♦  Hickory forest + Chinese herbs mixed model
 ♦  Hickory forest + broadleaf species (Cerasus campanulate, Phoebe chekiangensis, Camellia oleifera) model
Guidelines on forest rehabilitation and restoration management will be developed, including criteria and indicators for forest rehabilitation and restoration at the community level.
Developing a carbon accounting methodology fit for hilly areas
China has initiated a national carbon trade programme since 2017, aiming to increase potential in carbon sinks through forest restoration and management activities. However, there is a lack of uniform carbon accounting methods to evaluate carbon storage change during forest restoration, which affects communities’ rights to benefit from a future carbon trade market. The project will analyse baseline data of carbon pools in demonstration sites and monitor carbon storage change during forest restoration. Following the principles and theories in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidelines and methodologies for carbon sinks and forest management, forest reference levels fit for carbon sink estimation at project level will be developed. The new carbon accounting methodology will provide guidance on how to estimate carbon sinks in practice at the project level.