Superpower China Turns to Our Forestry Commission for Help

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Superpower China Turns to Our Forestry Commission for Help


Byline: By Steve Dube Western Mail

They don't seem to have a lot in common, but trees could soon form a sort of bridge between China and Wales. With a population well in excess of 1.3 billion and a surging economy, China is a budding world superpower modernising at the speed of an oriental express.

Thousands of miles away here in Wales, where the Welsh Assembly Government lives by the canon of sustainable development, the pace is somewhat more modest.

But that hasn't stopped the government of one of China's municipalities striking up a friendship with Forestry Commission Wales that could yet make its mark on our planet.

The Chongqing People's Municipal Government, which presides over a population of more than 31 million across an area of 83,000 sq km, has turned to Wales to learn how its own vast forests can help to lessen the environmental effects of China's galloping growth.

The Wales-Chongqing connection dates back to March 2006, when the Welsh Assembly Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chongqing People's Municipal Government.

The MoU outlined the intention for co-operation and development in the areas of economic development, education and training, the environment, culture, governance and agriculture.

In the summer of 2006, a delegation from Chongqing travelled to Wales as guests of the Assembly Government. During their visit, FC Wales hosted a tour of some of the Assembly's woodlands, including the Coed y Brenin forest and new visitor centre near Dolgellau.

The friendship gathered pace in March this year with a series of events in Chongqing to mark the first anniversary of the memorandum.

That's when the Chongqing Forestry Bureau asked for a similar memorandum with FC Wales with particular focus on sustainable forestry, climate change and environmental programmes.

Ruth Jenkins of FC Wales, who had escorted the Chongqing party on its visit to Wales, travelled to the People's Republic to seal the partnership. And already there are signs that this is much more than a couple of signatures on a document and a handshake for the cameras.

FC Wales Director Ian Forshaw has written to his opposite number in Chongqing suggesting arrangements for future staff exchanges and secondments.

And he has invited officials from Chongqing to attend the Royal Welsh Show as guests of FC Wales and to consider becoming involved in the creation of a small community forest in Wales dedicated to offering a "Taste of China".

This would seek to involve the Chinese community in Wales in designing a forest and then using it for recreation and cultural events of interest to them.

During her stay in China, Ruth gave a presentation on the way FC Wales manages its forests sustainably with a variety of aims - providing social benefits, promoting a healthy environment and reducing the effects of climate change. …

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