Forestry Sector

Forest Resources

According to the results from the 1995 Third Survey of Forest Resources and Land Use in Taiwan, forestland occupies 2,102,400 ha (58.53%) of the total island area (3,591,500 ha). Among the forestland, 76.7% (1,642,900 ha) belongs to national forest. The main forest types are hardwood forest (1,120,400 ha), coniferous forest (438,500 ha), mixed coniferous and hardwood forest (391,200 ha), and bamboo (152,300 ha). The total forest volume of the island is approximately 358 million m3. On average, forest volume per hectare is 287 m3 for conifer, 119 m3 for hardwood, and 254 m3 for the mixed forest.

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Afforestation/Reforestation Objective

Although forest covers 58.53% of the island, the geographical distribution is unbalanced. The forest covers 93% of the mountain ranges in central Taiwan, while only 31% of slope land and flat area is forested. Meanwhile, after joining the WTO in 2002, Taiwan inevitably faces great competition and challenge in agriculture sector; many crop fields have been abandoned. In consequence, the Forestry Bureau promotes afforestation of abandoned lands. It provides economical incentives for the farmers, creates recreational agro-forest environment, increases forest cover in flat area, as well as responding to the need for curbing global warming by increasing carbon sink from the planted trees.

Carbon Stock of Forest Resource in Taiwan

Although Taiwan is a small island, estimate of Taiwan's forest carbon storage is about 591.6 million tons in total, with absorption from the atmosphere around 19.1 million tons per year. The annual absorption rate compensates 10.2~21.1% of the emission from local petrochemical industry.

Forest Carbon Management Strategies

To cope with global greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, the Council of Agriculture has, under the “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act”, formulated "Healthy Forest Carbon Management" as a comprehensive target. The policy entails implementation of three management strategies: carbon sequestration, carbon conservation, and carbon substitution. Active ways towards “Healthy Forest Carbon Management” are good forest management and expansion of reforestation. It is our consensus that forest resources will reduce carbon dioxide, slow down global warming, increase the economic value and use- efficiency of forestry products, as well as provide biodiversity, groundwater restoration and many other values.

Although reforestation is a long term commitment, accumulation of organic carbon can be relatively quickly restored. Since highland forest usage has reached the saturation point, choosing suitable trees and expanding reforestation area to increase carbon absorption would be an active and effective way to achieve carbon dioxide emission reduction under the principle of ''the right tree for the right place". With thorough considerations of both economical incentive and sustainable ecosystem, hardwoods such as Zelkova formosana, Cinnamomum camphora, Acacia confuse, Swietenia spp. are chosen as major planting species. From 1990 to 2007, total reforestation area with hardwoods has reached 84,237 ha. Planting trees on barren land, farm land, or damaged forest land and greening of city/community will effectively expand the forested area and increase absorption of carbon dioxide. Thus the Forestry Bureau has been actively promoting reforestation at the ground level in the period of 2002 to 2008. In 2007, the total increase of afforestation/reforestation area is 86 ha. It was the balance of 1,135 hectares of afforestation/reforestation minus 1,049 ha forest loss due to forest fire etc. The main afforestation area includes 602 ha under “Afforestation in the Flat Area” project and 511 ha of national forest.The main reason of forest land loss was due to the collapse of forest lands, mainly landslides. It counts 956 ha (91%) of forest loss. From 2000 to 2008, there were around 1,100 ha of collapsed forest land turned into barren land per year (which equals to 81% of total forest losses). This is the main cause of forest area decrease in Taiwan.

forestry 02The government has actively encouraged “Afforestation in the Flat Area” project that targets abandoned farm land. Between 2002 and 2007, 7,813 hectares of abandoned land has been planted and has created good landscape. In the mean time, the government initiates “Green Afforestation” project in 2008 and targets to reforest 60,000 ha of land in the following 8 years. Through a large-scale afforestation effort of this sort, it will effectively increase forest cover, improve landscape quality in the low-land, and enhance timber’s carbon sequestration effect.

In the Future

Global warming has impacted the climate and agricultural economies to a degree that can no longer be ignored, and forests are extremely important as future resources and protectors of nature. Therefore the most cost-effective way to protect our natural resources and ensure sustainable development of the earth is through considerate protection, management, and afforestation/reforestation which shall minimize the production of greenhouse gases.