(Adopted by the Seventeen Session of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress on September 20, 1984, promulgated by Order No. 17 of the President of the People's Republic of China on September 20, 1984, and effective on January 1, 1985)
Chapter I General Provisions
Chapter II Forest Management and Administration
Chapter III Forest Protection
Chapter IV Tree Planting and Afforestation
Chapter V Felling of Forest Trees
Chapter VI Legal Liability
Chapter VII Supplementary Provisions
Chapter I General Provisions
For the purposes of protecting, cultivating and rationally utilizing forest resources, speeding up afforestation of the country's land, bringing the forests' role into play in conserving water and soil, reconditioning the climate, improving the environment and providing forest products, and meeting the needs of socialist construction and the people's life, this Law is hereby enacted.
Any activity in the felling and utilization, cultivation and planting as well as management and administration of forests in the territory of the People's Republic of China must be in conformity to this Law.
Forest resources shall be owned by the whole people with the exception of those owned by collectives according to law.
Local people's governments at or above the county level shall put into official lists the forests, trees and forest land owned by the whole people and by collectives as well as the trees owned and forest land used by individuals, and shall issue certificates to confirm the ownership or right of use thereof.
The legitimate rights and interests of the owners and users of forests, trees and forest land shall be protected by the law, and may not be infringed upon by any unit or person.
Forests are classified into the following five categories:
1. Protective forests: forests, trees and bushes that mainly serve the purpose of protection, including those for water sources conservation, for the control of soil erosion, for windbreaks and sand-fixation, for farmland and pasture land protection, and for embankment protection and road protection.
2. Timber forests: forests and trees that are mainly used for producing timber, including bamboo forests that are mainly used for producing bamboo products.
3. Economic forests: forest trees that are mainly used for producing fruits, edible oils, beverages, condiments, industrial raw materials and medicinal materials.
4. Firewood forests: forest trees that are mainly used for producing fire woods.
5. Forests of special uses: forests and trees that are mainly used for such purposes as national defense, environmental protection and scientific experiments, including forests for national defense, forests for the purpose of experiments, seed forests, environmental protection forests, scenery forests, and forest trees at scenic spots, sites of historical value and places with historic significance in the Chinese revolution and forests in nature reserves.
The guiding principles of forestry development shall be: a comprehensive protection of forests, a vigorous afforestation, a co-ordination between felling and cultivation and a sustained utilization of forest resources on the basis of forest management.
The State shall encourage scientific research and raise the level of science and technology in the sphere of forestry.
The State shall put into effect the following protective measures for forest resources:
1. imposing quota control on tree felling, and encouraging tree-planting and closure of mountains and hills to facilitate afforestation in order to enlarge the area of forest acreage.
2. providing financial assistance or long-term loans to collectives and individuals engaging in tree planting and forest cultivation under the relevant regulations of the State and local people's governments.
3. collecting forest culture fees and using them exclusively for tree planting and forest cultivation.
4. collecting a certain amount of funds from such departments as coal and paper manufacturing industries according to the output of coal, wood pulp and paper for the exclusive use of cultivating timber forests that will be used for pit wood and paper-making.
5. setting up a forestry funding system.
Pursuant to the regulations of the State on the power of autonomy for national autonomous areas, the State and people's governments of provinces and autonomous regions shall grant autonomous areas of minority nationalities a greater decision-making power and more economic benefits than other ordinary areas in terms of the forestry development, timber distribution and use of the forest fund for their production and construction in the sphere of forestry.
The competent department of the State Council for forestry shall be in charge of the work in connection with forestry throughout the country. The competent departments for forestry of the people's governments at or above the county level shall be responsible for the work in connection with forestry in their respective areas. The people's governments at the township level shall have full-time or part-time persons for the forestry work.
Planting trees and protecting forests are the bounded duty of citizens. The people's governments at all levels shall organize all people into voluntary tree-planting and afforestation activities.
The people's governments at various levels shall give commendation or material awards to those units and persons which and who have made outstanding achievements in tree planting, afforestation, forest protection and forest administration.
Chapter II Forest Management and Administration
Competent forestry departments at various levels shall, subject to the provisions of this Law, exercise control and supervision on the protection, utilization and regeneration of forest resources.
Competent forestry departments at various levels shall be responsible for organizing surveys on forest resources, establishing a record-keeping system on such resources and having a good grasp to any change in forest resources.
The people's governments at various levels shall formulate their respective long-term plans on the forestry development. State-owned forestry enterprises and institutions as well as nature reserves shall, in line with such long-term plans, draw up their respective forest management plans and implement such plans after having been submitted to and approved by the competent departments at the higher level.
The competent forestry departments shall provide guidance to rural collective economic organizations, State-owned agricultural and pastoral farms, industrial enterprises and mines in drawing up their forest management plans.
Any dispute relating to the ownership or right of use of trees and forest land raised between units owned by the whole people, between units owned by collectives or between the unit owned by the whole people and the unit owned by the collective shall be settled by the people's government at or above the county level.
Any dispute relating to the ownership or right of use of trees and forest land raised between individuals, or between an individual and an unit owned by the whole people or an unit owned by the collective shall be settled by the local people's government at the county or township level.
A party concerned disagreeing with the decision of settlement made by the people's government may, within one month following receipt of the notification, bring the matter before the people's court.
Prior to a settlement of a dispute relating to the ownership to trees and forest land, none of the parties may chop the trees under dispute.
In carrying out prospecting and designing, constructing projects and facilities or exploiting mine resources, forest land shall not be used or shall be used as less as possible; the use or requisition of the forest land shall be governed by the provisions of relevant laws. Any use or requisition of a forest land exceeding 2,000 mu shall be subject to the approval of the State Council.
Chapter III Forest Protection
Local people's governments at all levels shall organize relevant departments to set up forest protection organizations which shall be responsible for the work of forest protection; shall, according to the actual needs, add more forest protection facilities in large forest areas so as to strengthen forest protection; and shall urge grassroots units which own forests or which are located in forest areas to make forest protection pledges, to mobilize the masses to protect the forests, to designate and declare areas of responsibility for forest protection and to appoint full-time or part-time forest guards.
Forest guards may be appointed by the people's governments at the county or township level. Their main duties shall be: patrol the forests and prevent any act of destroying forest resources. In a case where any one has caused damages to forest resources, the forest guards shall have the right to request the local department concerned to look into the matter.
Local people's governments at all levels shall take practical measures in performing the work in preventing and extinguishing any forest fire:
1. designate periods for forest fire prevention. During such periods, any use of fire in the open in a forest area shall be forbidden; If, under special circumstances, the use of fire is necessary, approval must be obtained from the people's government at the county level or from the agency it authorized;
2. install fire prevention facilities in the forest areas;
3. mobilize, without delay, the local military and civilians as well as departments concerned to fight forest fire in case a fire breaks out; and
4. in case that a person is wounded, disabled or killed in fighting the forest fire, the unit to which the person belongs shall provide medical treatment or pensions if the person is an employee of a State unit; in case that the person wounded, disabled or killed is not a State employee, the unit where the fire occurred shall, in accordance with the regulations of relevant competent departments of the State Council, provide the medical treatment or pensions; in a case where the unit is not held responsible for the fire or is really incapable of bearing such expenses, the local people's government shall provide the medical treatment or pensions.
The competent forestry departments at all levels shall be responsible for organizing the work of the prevention and control of plant diseases and insect pests in the forests.
The competent forestry departments shall be responsible for determining the categories of forest tree seeds and seedlings that should be quarantined, designating quarantine zones and protection zones and carrying out quarantine on tree seeds and seedlings.
It shall be forbidden to destroy trees for reclaiming farmland, quarrying and digging sand or earth as well as any other activity of deforestation.
It shall be forbidden to chop firewood and graze in young forest areas or in forests of special uses.
Any person entering a forest or its fringe areas shall be forbidden to move or damage arbitrarily any mark set up in the service of forestry.
The competent department of the State Council for forestry as well as the people's governments of provinces, autonomous
regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government shall designate and declare nature reserves in such forest areas of special value for protection as areas with typical forest ecology in different natural zones, forest areas where rare plants and animals propagate and grow and natural tropical rain forests so as to strengthen the protection and administration.
The administrative measures for nature reserves shall be devised by the competent department of the State Council for forestry and shall be implemented after being submitted to and approved by the State Council.
Rare trees growing outside the nature reserves as well as plant species of special value in the forest areas shall be well protected; and none of them may be chopped or collected unless approved by the competent forestry department of a province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government.
It shall be forbidden to hunt any wild animal in the forest area that has been put under the protection of the State. An hunting of such animals for special needs shall be governed by relevant laws and regulations of the State.
Chapter IV Tree Planting and Afforestation
The people's governments at all levels shall draw up tree-planting and afforestation plans, and set targets for increasing the forest acreage for their respective areas in line with their local conditions.
The people's governments at all levels shall organize all circles and urban and rural residents to fulfill the targets set out in the tree-planting and afforestation plans.
Where barren hills and wasteland suitable for afforestation are owned by the whole people, the competent forestry departments and other competent departments shall organize to plant trees; if they are owned by the collectives, the collective economic organizations shall organize to plant trees.
The afforestation of areas on both sides of railways and highways, on both banks of rivers and around lakes and reservoirs shall be organized by the competent departments concerned in line with the actual conditions; the afforestation in industrial and mining areas, on grounds occupied by government departments and schools, in army barracks as well as in areas managed by agricultural, pastoral and fishery farms shall be carried out respectively by those units.
The barren hills and wastelands owned by the whole people and by collectives which are suitable for afforestation may be contracted by the collectives or individuals for afforestation.
Forest trees planted by units owned by the whole people shall be managed by such units, which shall have the right to distribute the proceeds from those trees according to the State's regulations.
Forest trees planted and managed by units under collective ownership shall be owned by such units.
Trees planted by rural residents around their houses and on the plots of farmland allocated for private use and privately hilly land shall be owned by them. Trees planted by urban residents and staff and workers in the courtyard of their privately-owned houses shall be owned by them.
In a case where a collective or an individual contracts to afforest barren hills and wastelands suitable for afforestation owned by the whole people or by the collective, forest trees planted according to the contract shall be owned by the contracting collective or individual; where the contract provides otherwise, such provisions of the contract shall be applied.
Where it is a must to close the hills for the forest cultivation in those young forest lands and other areas, the local people's governments shall be responsible therefor.
Chapter V Felling of Forest Trees
The State shall, in line with the principle that the consumption of timber forest should be lower than the amount of its growth, strictly control the annual amount of forest felling. With the State-owned forestry enterprise or institution, farm, factory or mine as the unit in terms of forests and forest trees owned by the whole people, and with the county as the unit in terms of forests and forest trees owned by the collective, such annual felling quotas shall be compiled and aggregated by the competent forestry departments of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, be examined and verified by the people's governments of the same level and be submitted to the State Council for approval.
The State shall work out an unified annual timber production plan. No annual timber production plan may exceed the approved annual felling quotas. The scope of planning management shall be specified by the State Council.
The felling of the forests and trees must be in conformity to the following provisions:
1. With regard to mature timber forests, a selection felling, clear felling or gradual felling may be carried out in the light of the different conditions. The clear felling shall be strictly controlled and regenerative reforestation must be completed in the same year or the following year in which such a felling is carried out.
2. With regard to protective forests and forests of special uses as forests for national defense, seed forests, environmental protection forests and scenic forests, only cultivation chopping and regeneration chopping may be allowed.
3. With regard to forest trees in such forests of special uses as forest trees at the sites of scenic and historical values and in the places with historic significance in the Chinese revolution as well as the forest trees in nature reserves, any chopping or felling shall be strictly forbidden.
Any felling of forest trees must be subject to the application for a felling license, and be carried out as stipulated by such license; however, the felling of their forest trees growing in the plot of farmland allocated for private use or around the houses by rural residents shall be excluded.
When a State-owned forestry enterprise or institution, government body, social organization, military unit, school or any other State-owned enterprise or institution wants to fell forest trees, the competent forestry department at or above the county level in the place where it is located shall, if approval, issue the felling license thereto.
Any regeneration chopping of protective forest belts along railways and highways as well as forest trees in cities and towns shall be examined and approved by the competent department concerned which shall issue the felling license thereto.
When a rural collective economic organization intends to fell forest trees, the competent forestry department at the county level shall, if approval, issue the felling license thereto.
When a rural resident desires to fell forest trees on privately hilly land or forest trees of the collective that he has contracted for cultivation, the competent forestry department at the county level or the town or township people's government it authorized shall, if approval, issue the felling license thereto.
The provisions of the paragraphs above shall apply to the chopping of bamboo forests cultivated mainly for producing bamboo timber.
No department in charge of issuing the felling license may issue it in excess of the approved annual felling quotas.
A State-owned forestry enterprise or institution applying for a felling license must submit documents of survey and design of the felling area. Any other unit applying for a felling license must submit documents specifying the purpose, location, type of forests, existing state of the forest, acreage, the growing stock involved, the felling method as well as regeneration measures.
The department which issued the felling license shall have the right to revoke the license of an unit which, in violation of the regulations, carries out felling operations in an approved felling area, to order it to suspend its felling operations until it is rectified.
Units and individuals felling forest trees must complete regenerative afforestation tasks within the time limit and according to the requirements on the area, number of trees and types of trees prescribed in the felling license, and the area of regenerative afforestation and the number of trees to be planted must be larger than the felling area and the number of trees being chopped.
Measures for the management, supervision and administration of timber in forest areas shall be provided by the State Council separately.
A transport license issued by the competent forestry department shall be required whenever transporting timber out of the forest area, however, the transport of timber under unified distribution and allocation by the State shall be excluded.
Upon the approval of the people's government at the level of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government, a timber check-post may be set up in a forest area to supervise timber transportation. Where any one transporting timber is believed without a transport license or an allocation notification issued by the competent department in charge of materials supply, the timber check-post shall have the right to stop such transport.
Chapter VI Legal Liability
Where any one illegally fells forests or other forest trees and if the circumstance is of a minor nature, the competent forestry department shall order him or her to compensate the losses incurred, and to plant trees several dozen times the number of trees illegally chopped, and may concurrently impose a fine thereon exceeding three times but not exceeding ten times the illegal gains therefrom. Where any one denudes forests or other forest trees and if the circumstance is of a minor nature, the competent forestry department shall order him or her to plant trees five times the number of trees so chopped, and may concurrently impose thereon a fine exceeding two times but not exceeding five times the illegal gains therefrom.
Whoever illegally fells or denudes forests and other forest trees, if the circumstance is serious, shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with the provisions of Article 128 of the Criminal Law.
Whoever illegally cuts down and appropriates the timber so chopped, if the amount involved is enormous, shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with the provisions of Article 152 of the Criminal Law.
In a case where, in violation of the provisions of this Law, a forest tree felling license is issued in excess of the approved annual felling quotas or by acting beyond its authority, the person or persons directly held responsible shall be given an administrative penalty; if the case is serious and serious damages are caused to the forests, the person or persons directly held responsible shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with the provisions of Article 187 of the Criminal Law.
Where any one counterfeits or resells the forest tree felling license, the competent forestry department shall confiscate his or her illegal gains and impose a fine thereon; if the circumstance is serious, criminal responsibility shall be investigated by applying mutatis mutandis the provisions of Article 120 of the Criminal Law.
Where any one, in violation of the provisions of this Law, reclaims land, quarries stones, digs sand or earth, gathers seeds or resin, chops firewood or engages in any other activities, consequently causing damages to forests and forest trees, the competent forestry department shall order him or her to compensate the losses incurred and to plant one to three times the number of the trees damaged or destroyed.
Where any unit or person felling forest trees fails to fulfill the task in the regeneration and afforestation as required, the department which has issued tree felling license shall have the right to stop issuing any more felling license thereto till the time when the unit or person accomplishes the regeneration and afforestation tasks; if the case is serious, the competent forestry department may impose a fine thereon, and the person or persons directly held responsible shall be given an administrative penalty by the units to which they belong or by the competent department at the higher level.
A party concerned disagreeing with the decision of a fine made by the competent forestry department may, within one month following receipt of the notification, bring the matter before the people's court. If the party, after the expiration of this period, has neither initiated a legal proceedings nor executed the decision, the competent forestry department may apply to a people's court for a compulsory enforcement.
Chapter VII Supplementary Provisions
The competent department of the State Council for forestry shall, pursuant to this Law, formulate measures for implementing it, and submit them to the State Council for approval.
In a national autonomous area to which the provisions of this Law cannot be applied completely, the organ of self-government may, in the light of the principles of this Law and its characteristics, enact adaptive or supplementary regulations, which shall be implemented after having been submitted to and approved by the standing committee of the people's congress of the province or autonomous region concerned or by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in accordance with the legal procedures.
This Law shall enter into force on January 1, 1985.
Appendix: Relevant Articles of the Criminal Law
Whoever illegally cuts down trees or denudes forests or other woodlands, in violation of the laws and regulations on forestry protection, if the circumstances are serious, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years or criminal detention and may concurrently or exclusively be imposed a fine.
A habitual thief or habitual swindler or anyone who steals, swindles or forcibly seizes a huge amount of public or private property shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years; if the circumstances are especially serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years or life imprisonment, and may concurrently be sentenced to confiscation of property.
Any State functionary who, because of neglect of duty, causes public property or the interests of the State and the people to suffer heavy losses shall be sentenced to fix-term imprisonment of not more than five years or criminal detention.
Whoever, for the purpose of profit, counterfeits or resells ration coupons, if the circumstances are serious, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years or criminal detention, and may concurrently or exclusively be sentenced to a fine or confiscation of property.
Ringleaders of a crime mentioned in the preceding paragraph and perpetrators of particular serious cases of such crime shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than seven years, and may concurrently be sentenced to confiscation of property.