Beijing: China is set to ban commercial logging of natural forests in state-owned plantations by the end of 2016, a move aimed at protecting the country's greenforest resources, the media reported on Friday.
Zhang Yongli, deputy head of the State Forestry Bureau, said that China will also gradually stop commercial logging of collectively-owned natural forests beginning in 2017, the Global Times reported.
"As one of the world's largest consumers of wood products, China has been intensifying its forest protection efforts," a bureau official said.
China, which logs about 49.94 million cubic metres of natural forest each year, initiated a landmark pilot programme to ban all commercial logging of natural forests in key forest zones in Heilongjiang province in April 2014.
The Chinese government has made great progress in tackling illegal logging and associated trade, according to an assessment released by London-based policy institute Chatham House in 2014.
"The release of a specific timetable may further promote the protection of forest resources in China, but it will take time to evaluate the results of those measures," Pan Wenjing, an expert on forest protection with Greenpeace, said.
According to Pan, the ban on logging in natural forests may intensify the timber shortage in China, since the country has a strong demand for timber while it lacks usable and mature cultivated forests.