Establishing a Policy Framework Facilitating Forest Landscape Restoration and Sustainable Forest Management in China's State Forest Farms

Published: 11 October 2023
Last edited: 11 October 2023
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The Restoration Initiative (TRI) in China has worked to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of forest landscape restoration (FLR) and sustainable forest management approaches in China’s State Forest Farms (SFF). China has over 4,000 SFFs, where management has tended to focus on maximizing timber production and planting a few high-yielding tree species. The project has engaged policy experts to equip them with recommendations, and analysis of forestry policies and subnational regulatory frameworks in three pilot provinces, Hebein, Jiangxi, and Guizhou. By providing forestry policymakers with policy analysis and recommendations, studying SFF’s governance structures that support FLR reform goals and technical tools that improve forest resource management, TRI China facilitated the development of policy milestones that provide policymakers with guidelines for SFF governance that prioritize FLR and sustainable forest management.  


East Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Legal & policy frameworks
Land and Forest degradation
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience


People's Republic of China


The main challenge TRI is facing in China is the upscaling of sustainable forest management in the country's over 4,000 SFFs. With such a large number of forest farms, it can be difficult to expand to each forest's management structures an understanding of the importance of forest restoration and moving away from timber production, as well as what actions should be taken to sustainable manage forests. For this reason, TRI China started with three pilot provinces and worked to provide reports and studies that would help other forest farms take up FLR and sustainable forest management. 


The beneficiaries are the country’s SFFs, which, as China’s main mechanism for forest preservation, will greatly benefit from policy frameworks that emphasize FLR and sustainable forest management and ultimately result in forest restoration.  

How do the building blocks interact?

Together, providing information and recommendations on forestry policies to national and subnational forestry policy makers, supporting SFFs’ governance structures goals of reform, and improving technical tools to upgrade forest resource management, TRI China was able to help elaborate new policies and regulatory guidelines that facilitate and promote the implementation of FLR and sustainable forest management. Using the recommendations, TRI created “A Green Path to Growth State Forest Farm Policy Research in China’s New Stage of Economic and Social Development,” which provides suggestions on how to integrate forest landscape restoration into national policy and provides an in-depth analysis of China’s forestry policy history. In February 2023, TRI also facilitated NFGA’s development of the “Implementation Roadmap of Pilot Sustainable Forest Management in China,” which provides specific actions, to be supervised by each provincial forestry authority, that implemented sustainable forest management in all three pilot provinces. Along with the “Guidelines for Development Innovative FMR Plans in SFFs,” these policies integrate FLR implementation in SFF governance.


TRI China has contributed to the development of major policy documents, including “A Green Path to Growth State Forest Farm Policy Research in China’s New Stage of Economic and Social Development,” which provides policy analysis and suggestions on integrating FLR into policy, the “Implementation Roadmap of Pilot Sustainable Forest Management in China,” which implements sustainable forest management measures, and the “Guidelines for Development of Innovative FMR Plan in SFFs,” which provides suggestions on how SFFs can work toward ecosystem service-based management. These three policy milestones have contributed to both a major difference in previous practice as well as a major step taken towards the final goals of the project. With the Implementation roadmap and the Guidelines for Development providing actions for SFFs to take to integrate FLR policy and move toward sustainable forest management, the two policies mark the first time the SFF system has a key objective the enhancing of forest ecosystem services and sustainable forest management. With additional policy recommendations on how to implement sustainable management and prioritize FLR provided by A Green Path to Growth, all three policy milestones also push the project towards its final goals of increasing restoration in SFFs.  


Wang Xiulian, 50 years old, has been working as a technician in Jinpenshan State-owned Forest Farm (SFF), one of the pilot SFFs of TRI-China Project.  


Xiulian explained, “I live in Dawu Village, Xinfeng County, Jiangxi Province, only a few hundred meters from the Jinpenshan SFF. I have been familiar with the forest farm since childhood because I live near the SFF. After graduating from a higher vocational school, I met Jinpenshan SFF recruiting technicians. I applied for the job and was lucky to be selected.”   


“At that time, timber was very easy to sell, and the government had vigorously encouraged afforestation with many favourable policies, so working as SFF technician was a perfect job in rural areas. Women in our SFF are very hardworking like men, and we did everything together, from mountain clearing, land preparation, afforestation, farming, breeding, etc. In recent years, as I got older, my main job became managing nurseries. We didn’t have any sound equipment before and had to walk into the mountains with straw hats, food, and tools, and we often lived in the earthen houses we built. Later, as the economy improved and more roads were built, it became more and more convenient for shopping, and we no longer grew food, so our work became more manageable. But at the same time, our SFF was also impacted by the external economy," Xiulian added. "With the government’s help, after the SFF Reform in 2015, our forest farm changed from an enterprise to a public institution, and the government pays our wages. Our current average annual salary improved by 40% more than before. However, after the reform, the target of SFF changed from selling wood to ecological protection and restoration, which is very unfamiliar to us. The lack of knowledge and technology became a challenge. The SFF that I am working in is one of the project’s pilot areas, so at the beginning of the project launch in 2019, we were notified and participated in the launch meeting and training. We have been closely involved in various tasks in the past few years of project implementation.” 


“The first is funds. We used the project funds to purchase many devices, such as laptops, GPS locators, trapping cameras and other equipment. We also carried out afforestation, tending, and biodiversity monitoring, and carried out afforestation, tending, biodiversity monitoring and other work, which significantly improved our work efficiency”, added Xiulian.

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Leah Bronstein IUCN

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