China: Revised Forest Law adopted

A revised Forest Law had been adopted by 13th National session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress with aim to better protect forest resources and spur ‘green development’. The new law will take effect on 1 July, 2020.

A new chapter “Forest Ownership” has been added to the new Forest Law which stipulates that the ownership and use rights of forest lands, forest and trees shall be registered and certificates shall be issued by the registration authorities. Legitimate rights and interests shall be protected by law and shall not be infringed upon by any organisation or individual.

For the purpose of environmental protection, infrastructure construction and other public interests the law provides for requisition forest land and trees and says the examination and approval procedures shall be handled according to law and fair and reasonable compensation shall be given.

Under the new Forest Law, the management system for forests is defined and the forests are divided into public and commercial forests. Public forests shall be strictly protected and commercial forests shall be operated independently by forest operators according to the law.

With regard to commercial forests it is clearly stipulated that the country encourages the development of commercial forests and that forest owners shall operate such forest of their own according to law and may take necessary measures to improve economic efficiency without damaging the environment.

The new Forestry Law has abolished the timber transport licensing system, improved tree cutting licensing system and optimised the procedures and conditions for the issuance of timber cutting licenses. The law explicitly requires competent forestry authorities to take measures to facilitate the application for cutting licenses.

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