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Timber depleting China's forests

06-30-2010 10:15 BJT

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- China's northeast is home to the largest and most important forested zone in the country. The forests of the Greater Hinggan, Lesser Hinggan, Zhangguangcai and Changbai mountain ranges have traditionally been the country's foremost sources of timber, making invaluable contributions to China's accelerated economic growth since 1949.

This immense timber resource has always been the target of foreign marauders. In the years between 1929 and 1944, the Russians and Japanese destroyed 18 percent of the forest cover in the northeast, and 14.3 percent of the region's forest resources.

During this period, the Chinese Eastern Railway was used almost exclusively for the transport of timber from the northeast China to Russia, while the Ussuri (Musuli) River was full of floating logs destined for Japan.

An old photograph I saw many years ago showed a most painful sight: an entire forest reduced to waist-high stumps by the Japanese.

In the two years from 1948 to 1949, the northeast produced 6 million cubic meters of timber. In 1950, the planned quota was 4 million cubic meters, but the northeast alone yielded as much as 5.3 million cubic meters, of which 3.4 million cubic meters came from Heilongjiang Province.

In the five years from 1953 to 1957, the northeast produced almost 49 million cubic meters of timber - that's half of all timber produced by China in that period. Most of the timber came from the provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin.

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