Excessive Reliance on Afforestation in China’s Arid and Semi-arid Regions: Lessons in Ecological Restoration

Cao, S., L. Chen, D. Shankman, C. Wang, X. Wang, and H. Zhang

Publication Date:

Although afforestation is potentially an important approach for environmental restoration, current Chinese policy has not been tailored to local environmental conditions, leading to the use of inappropriate species and an overemphasis on tree and shrub planting, thereby compromising the ability to achieve environmental policy goals. China’s huge investment to increase forest cover seems likely to exacerbate environmental degradation in environmentally fragile areas because it has ignored climate, pedological, hydrological, and landscape factors that would make a site unsuitable for afforestation. This has, in many cases, led to the deterioration of soil ecosystems and decreased vegetation cover, and has exacerbated water shortages. Large-scale and long-term research is urgently needed to provide information that supports a more effective and flexible environmental restoration policy.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Earth-Science Reviews