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What You Don’t Know About China’s Arbor Day

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Tomorrow is China’s Arbor Day. Afforestation has become a major corporate ESG means because of climate change and the goal of carbon neutrality. But do you know the history of Arbor Day? When and why was Arbor Day set on March 12?

History of China’s Arbor Day

Although tree planting was advised in ancient China, the activity was only written in the law since the 20th century.

Shortly after the founding of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who attached great importance to afforestation, established a Department of Forestry in 1912. In November 1914, the first forestry law in China’s modern history was published. The following year, several famous forest scientists, who were concerned about China’s forestry condition, proposed to establish an Arbor Day. In July 1915, the government approved the suggestion and made the annual Qingming Festival an Arbor Day. Ever since then, China has had a legal-binding annual Arbor Day. On Arbor Day, the entire country participates in tree planting activities.

The date of Arbor Day was changed in 1928, three years after Sun Yat-sen’s death. Sun Yat-sen had actively advocated the national afforestation movement to improve people’s livelihood when he was alive. Therefore, the government designated March 12, the day of his death, as Arbor Day to commemorate him, the father of modern China.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the sixth meeting of the fifth session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in February 1979 decided that March 12 would be Arbor Day in the PRC. Since then, the voluntary tree-planting campaign has been implemented nationwide as a law.

Guiding Ideology of Afforestation

Since Mao Zedong, all Chinese chairmen have put forward guiding ideology for afforestation, and the guiding ideology has been continuously developing.

Before the reform and opening up, Mao Zedong regarded forestry as an important condition for developing other related industries. He believes that agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry are interdependent: that is, a certain percentage of forest coverage can provide other industries with humidity, rainfall, soil fertility, drought resistance, cold resistance, sand prevention, wind resistance, etc. Natural conditions play a fundamental role in developing other industries, and vice versa.

After the reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping began to understand the status of forestry from the perspective of “people’s interests,” emphasizing that planting trees and grasses is an important means to improve people’s lives in areas with soil erosion, emphasizing that “environment and natural resources are the basic conditions for people’s survival… Protecting the environment is the fundamental interest of all Chinese people.”

Afterwards, Jiang Zemin proposed that forestry not only has important ecological significance, but also has huge economic, social and public welfare functions. Hu Jintao emphasized the comprehensive benefits and coordinated development of other industries such as forestry and agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing.

Entering the new era, Xi Jinping has more systematically put forward theories such as “Two Mountains Theory” (两山论) and “Life Community of Mountains, Waters, Forests, Fields and Lakes” (山水林田湖生命共同体), taking forestry as a key element of ecological restoration and a community between human and nature. He proposed to manage the relationship between forestry and other industries scientifically, and coordinate ecological protection and social development comprehensively.

Major Afforestation Constructions in China

Since the founding of the PRC, China’s afforestation has never stopped. The figure below shows the ​​afforestation area over the years.

Since the Three-North Shelterbelt Project in 1978, China has been carrying out large-scale afforestation programs in different regions in response to different problems. From 1998 to 2018, China’s cumulative total investment in key forestry programs reached about 861.2 billion yuan, and the total afforestation area reached 72.6813 million hectares. The scale has exceeded the famous ecological projects such as the Transformation of Nature Project (Soviet Union), the Prairie Forestry Project (United States) and the Green Dam Project (Five North African Countries). The programs have played an important role in soil and water conservation, disaster prevention, and economic construction in key areas.

In addition to government-led afforestation programs, enterprises, domestic and international NGOs, and other forces have all participated in afforestation in China. Among them is Treelion’s strategic partner, the Elion Group, dedicated to afforestation for over 30 years. Since 1988, Elion has treated over 6,000 square kilometers in the Kubuqi Desert, and the vegetation coverage has reached 53%.

Treelion’s Afforestation Action Plan

As a technology and green-finance company, Treelion actively promotes afforestation and carbon reduction. Treelion has catered a solution of Desert Afforestation + Seed Pencil to corporates’ needs of carbon-neutral CSR.

Apart from the service of tree planting in the Kubuqi Desert, the company that donates will also receive Treelion’s signature green product, “Seed Pencils.”

The “Seed Pencil” is made of environmental-friendly materials, and the capsule at the end of the pencil carries seeds. When the pencil is used up, it can be stuck into a pot for planting. Through the “Seed Pencils,” Treelion encourages individuals to participate in environmental protection actions, conveys the concept of cultivating green ecology in daily life, and contributes to the future’s sustainable development.

Since a century ago, China has established Arbor Day to promote nationwide afforestation and forest protection. Today, we are still a country that lacks forests and greenery. We must continue the afforestation movement, enhance people’s awareness of environmental protection, and promote research and development of innovative green products to further improve the country’s ecology.

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