2001 Volume 7 Issue 2 Pages 69-78
We compared the estimates of forest areas in China from the forest census database (1989-1993) and the land cover database based on remote sensing data of the NOAA AVHRR-derived monthly NDVI composite data from April 1992 to March 1993 at 1-km resolution, and analyzed the spatial distribution of forest resources. According to the land cover database, China has a total forest area of 1.27 million km^2, about 3% lower than the estimate from the forest census database. Our county-level quantitative analysis of forest area and population in China characterized the scarcity and uneven spatial distributions of forest resources per capita in China. On the average, forest area per capita in China is less than one-fifth of the global average of 0.64ha. Forest area per capita in North, Central, and South China is substantially lower than the national average of 0.11ha, and the spatial distribution in Northeast, Central, and Southwest China is relatively uneven. This study also highlights the challenges for using forest resources to improve the ecological environment, to raise people's living standards, and to spur economic growth in China. Based on analytical results, we proposed three perspectives concerning China's forest resource management in the 21st century.