Reflection on Afforestation and Land Greening from the Perspective of Biodiversity Conservation | Zhou Jinfeng Delivered a Keynote Speech at the 15th Greenaccord International Media Forum for the Protection of Nature
2019/3/14 0:00:00 本站

On March 7, 2019, local time, the Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) Dr. Zhou Jinfeng led a delegation to attend the 15th Greenaccord International Media Forum for the Protection of Nature and delivered a keynote speech entitled “Biodiversity and Forests”.


The organizers of the forum attached great importance to CBCGDF's attendance at the forum. The forum focused on how to realize the ecological value of forests and their consequences for the destruction of indigenous peoples. It is co-organized by the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Tuscany region, with sponsors including UNESCO. More than 100 journalists from five continents participated in the forum.


In the keynote speech, Dr. Zhou talked about the current background of large-scale afforestation and land greening in China. It is no problem to talk about these principles, and the afforestation work involving a large number of people has made great achievements; but now we should also pay attention to the issue of biodiversity conservation, especially in combination with a global climate change emergency. For example, while achieving afforestation, we should consider not adversely affecting the soil and leading to increased climate change, thereby minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. This is why there are now “carbon neutral” cities that want to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and emphasize the protection of the surface ecological environment. While we are afforestation on a large scale, and affirming and implementing a correct decision-making and principle, we should also consider how to implement it and do it better. We must consider the issue of biodiversity.


Here is a selection of the Press Release made by the organizer of the forum on the 7th sorted into Chinese as follows.

“Saving the world’s forests

by changing our cultural and economical models”


The 15th International forum for environmental journalism organized by the non-profit organization Greenaccord with the region of Tuscany and held in San Miniato, kicked off today with a focus on the world’s deforestation’s worrisome fast pace regardless legislative efforts. The main causes are agricultural industries and an unsustainable economic and consumeristic system.


San Miniato, 7 March 2019 - “The forests represent balance and stability within the ecosystem. Regardless, every year we lose 16 million hectares of forest. These are staggering numbers and should be strong enough to prompt immediate action, for forests supply oxygen, filter the air, regulate humidity of the nearby areas, absorb enormous quantities of greenhouse gases and provide shelter and sustenance for the local populations. Woodlands should be considered universal resources, because they guarantee the balance of the planet and because their protection is the protection of the whole of humanity, but instead they depend on the weak legislations of single countries”. These are the opening remarks of the 15th International Media Forum for the Protection of Nature titled “the breath of Earth: the forests” organized by the non-profit Greenaccord and the Region of Tuscany and ongoing until March 9th in the Tuscan town of San Miniato.


The three most endangered regions


The increasing loss of our woodlands is more than ever a pressing matter as it has a direct impact on people’s lives. Yet, the complex dynamics causing deforestation are underestimated and underreported by the media. The first causes of dying forests are intensive agriculture and mining. “Today’s economic system which is based on production/consumptions/waste is a voracious monster feeding on increasing quantities of natural resources without allowing regeneration. It is when economic interests prevail on nature’s safeguard that the consequences are disastrous, with massive loss in biodiversity, polluted water supplies, and indigenous populations forced to migrate” explains the president of Greenaccord, Alfono Cauteruccio.


“We are especially concerned with the deforestation of the three large regions of the world with highest percentage of woodlands: the Amazon, the Congolese region and South-East Asia”.

The Amazon forest extends throughout 9 different nations (Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Perú, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname), and represents 43% of the South American territory. It provides for 20% of non-frozen fresh water on the entire plant and houses 35% of the world’s biodiversity. In the Amazon, 300 indigenous peoples live, with 240 different languages, for a total of 3 million people.


The efforts for the valorization of the Tuscan woodlands.


The mayor of San Miniato, Vittorio Gabbanini, greeted the journalists gathered for the 15th International forum of environmental journalism. “We are honored to host an international conference on environmental issues which are so dear to our community. San Miniato is the world capitol of truffle and I can tell you, this precious tuberous would not be growing if we hadn’t enforced careful environmental policies in our region in the last fifty years. We have succeeded in improving our economical revenues while carefully respecting the environment”.

The Regional councilor for the Environment of the Region of Tuscany, Federica Fratoni, also explained how “the Tuscan woodlands are an asset to be cherished and protected further. We must invest in those activities and business who thrive by protecting them. This is why we have allocated important sums for our Regional Development plan with certain regard to youth and women. Forestry is a way to re-boost long-lost traditional professions like in sustainable construction and anti-seismic engineering”.


Deforestation: the second cause for greenhouse gases emissions.


The impact of deforestation on our planet was explained by Sergio Baffoni, coordinator for the campaign for forests of the Environmental Paper Network (Italy). “The impact of deforestation on climate is devastating and it is the second largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. But climate change isn’t the only negative impact. 80% of Earth’s biodiversity lives in forests and of this percentage, 250 species a day disappear. It is a tragedy that impacts more than one billion people’s lives living in or near forests and are forced to emigrate as desertification advances. Every year, about 200 people are killed because attempting to defend these territories. And the number is in constant increase”. To fight this process, Baffoni concluded, “we must have national governments pull together and strategize, even if they are often weaker than the large industrial lobbies. Paper recycling policies must be reviewed, and we must learn to valorize the quality of life instead of counting the quantity of products we consume”.


A serious problem: predatory culture


Following the same line, Marco Marchetti, professor of Woodland assessment and cultivation at the University of Molise, focused his speech on the ecosystems of our planet. “We are living in a time of cultural disconnection. We must return to a lifestyle that brings us closer to rural life cycles and in good or bad, would keep us tied to Nature’s cycles”. Regarding the impact on the climate, Marchetti explained how “if the temperature rises 3 degrees we can cultivate cereal in Siberia with obviously devastating consequences”. So, we must prompt a cultural revolution, “rely on the youth to change our lifestyle, speak of urban forests, change the way we build cities, utilize soil and land. Having more green areas does not necessarily insure the same type of service and functionality of the ecosystems”.


“The disappearance of woodlands is a humanitarian issue, not just environmental, it revives colonialism, based on a non-recognition of cultures and customs different than our own”, explained Andrea Masullo, scientific director of Greenaccord, to the journalists who gathered from all over the world to attend the forum. “The people who live in the forests do not conceive accumulation, they live in balance with their natural surroundings, exactly the opposite to our culture which has a predatory attitude towards the environment, rather than respectful and of conservation. The people of the forests know how to sustainably utilize natural resources. We, on the contrary, consum with no criteria” and this is why “our cultural models are responsible for the serious natural disasters, such as climate change”, Masullo concluded.


The Chinese effort to save the forests


National and international politics are crucial when confronting large scale environmental problems. The choices made by China are exemplary, for they are responsible for a vast portion of territory. “Beijing has brought forth in the last few years various initiatives for the tutelage of forests with different programs for forest cultivation and the acquisition of land for reforestation, with the final objective to enlarge the green areas” Jinfeng Zhou explained, secretary general for China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation. “These initiatives have made China a leader in the world’s safeguard of forests”, Zhou explained. Yet, reforestation has come “with consequences for the ecosystem, with the soil losing nutrients too fast and with biodiversity struggling to find a balance. Artificial forests are different, this is why we also must work on the quality more”, the environmentalist explained. “This is why our Foundation is battling for a change in the article 26 of the Chinese Constitution so we can make the government even more accountable and responsible for reforestation”.



(Photo credit: Greenaccord)









(Photo credit: CBCGDF Green Great Zhu Zhengxue)

Original Chinese article:

By / Niu Jingmei