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China is set to launch a massive reform of laws governing forest ownership by the state and village communities. As per the plans, the country's
forests--spread over 280 million hectares--will now be managed by individual farmers, contractors or even investors from overseas.
The reform's prime objective is to diversify forest ownership. This means, the village communities will continue to hold ownership rights but not the
management. Touted as the biggest reform in China, regional governments have already initiated pilot projects in this connection.
Authorities in Shaanxi Province have decided to allocate 70 per cent of the province's forest resources to the management of individual
farmers--some contracts running for 70 years. The nationwide reform process is expected to be completed by 2010.
The National Development and Reform Commission believes the reform will boost forestry and benefit the environment and the economy.