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China lacks forests. Totaling 158.94 million hectares, forests cover 16.55 percent of China's total land area, far less than the world's average level of 30.8 percent. Natural forests are concentrated in the northeast and the southwest, but scarcely distributed in the eastern plain and the vast northwestern region. However, the forests in China are rich in tree species, with the number of arbor species alone exceeding 2,800. Rare and peculiar species include ginkgo and metasequoia (dawn redwood). The area of planted forests has reached 33.79 million hectares, accounting for 31.86 percent of the country's total forest area, making China a country with the largest artificial afforested area in the world.

The Northeast China Forest Zone:Located in the Greater and Lesser Hinggan Mountains and the Changbai Mountain, it is the largest natural forest area in China, with its forest coverage and timber reserves accounting for over one-third of the national total. As China's largest lumbering base, the area turns out half of the national total timber output. Chief tree species include larch and Korean pine.

The Southwest China Forest Zone:The second largest, it consists of forests in the Hengduan Mountains, on the southern slopes of the Himalayas and in the area at the U-turn of the Yarlung Zangbo River. Its forest reserves make up one-third of the national total. Main tree species include red sandal and nanmu.

The Southeast China Forest Zone:Comprising mainly planted forests in China, it covers the vast hilly areas south of the Qinling Mountains and Huaihe River and east of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Planted forests mainly contain economic tree species, such as tea plants, moso bamboo, masson pine and lacquer tree.

Shelter-Forests:In a bid to resist sandstorms and prevent soil erosion, China has constructed many shelter-forests, such as the three-north (northeast, north and northwest China) shelterbelt, shelter-forests along the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River, coastal shelterbelt networks, afforestation project on the Taihang Mountains and the plain afforestation project. Of these, the three-north shelterbelt has been regarded as "the world's greatest ecological project".

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