Laws of the People's Republic of China
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LAW OF THE
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
(Adopted at the Seventh Meeting of the Standing Committee of the
Sixth National People's Congress, promulgated by Order No. 17 of the
President of the People's Republic of China on September 20, 1984, and
effective as of January 1, 1985)
SUBJECT: NATURAL RESOURCES
ISSUING-DEPT: STANDING COMMITTEE OF PEOPLE'S CONGRESS
LENGTH: 4052 words
Chapter I General Provisions
Chapter II Forest Management and Administration
Chapter III Forest Protection
Chapter IV Tree Planting and Afforestation
Chapter V Forest Tree Cutting
Chapter VI Legal Liability
Chapter VII Supplementary Provisions
CHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS
[Article 1] This Law is formulated for the purpose of protecting, cultivating and rationally utilizing forest resources, speeding up afforestation of our land, giving full play to the forests' role of conserving water and soil, moderating the climate, improving the environment and providing forest products, so as to meet the needs of socialist construction and the people's life.
[Article 2] This Law must be observed in all activities relating to afforestation and tree felling as well as forest utilization, cultivation, management and administration within the territory of the People's Republic of China.
[Article 3] Forest resources, with the exception of those owned by collectives as provided for by law, shall be owned by the whole people.
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, shall be registered by the local people's governments at the county level and above, which shall, upon verification, issue certificates to confirm such ownership or right of use.
The lawful rights and interests of the owners and users of forests, trees and forest land shall be protected by law and shall not be infringed upon by any unit or individual.
[Article 4] Forests are classified into the following five categories:
(1) Protective forests: forests, trees and shrubberies that mainly serve the purpose of protection.üü They consist of forests for water supply conservation, checking soil erosion, for windbreak and sand-fixation, farmland and pasture protection, embankment protection and road protection.
(2) Timber forests: forests and trees that are used mainly for producing timber, including bamboo forests that are used mainly for producing bamboo timber.
(3) Economic forests: forest trees that are used mainly for producing fruit, edible oil, beverage ingredients, condiments, industrial raw material and medicinal materials.
(4) Firewood forests: forest trees that are used mainly for producing fuel wood.
(5) Forests for special uses: forests and forest trees that are used mainly for national defence, environmental protection and scientific experiment purposes.üü These include forests for national defence, experimental forests, seed forests, environmental protection forests, aesthetic forests, forest trees at scenic spots, historical sites and places with historic significance in the Chinese revolution and forests in nature reserves.
[Article 5] The guiding policy for forestry development shall be: put the emphasis on forest management, universalize forest protection, vigorously promote afforestation, coordinate cutting with cultivation and ensure the sustained utilization of forest resources.
The state shall encourage research in forest science so as to raise the level of forest science and technology.
[Article 6] The state shall adopt the following measures to protect forest resources:
(1) Quotas shall be imposed on tree felling, and efforts to plant trees and close hillsides to facilitate afforestation shall be encouraged, in order to enlarge the forest-covered area.
(2) Financial assistance or long-term loans shall be provided for collectives and individuals engaged in tree planting and forest cultivation in accordance with the relevant regulations of the state and local people's governments.
(3) Forest culture fees shall be collected for the exclusive use of tree planting and forest cultivation.
(4) Departments of coal and paper manufacturing industries shall set aside a certain amount of funds commensurate to the output of coal, wood pulp and paper for the exclusive use of cultivating timber forests that will be used for mine timber and paper-making.
(5) A forestry funding system shall be established.
[Article 7] With regard to the forestry production and development in autonomous areas of minority nationalities, the state and people's governments of the provinces and autonomous regions shall, in accordance with the power of autonomy the state has provided for national autonomous areas, grant these areas greater decision-making power and more economic benefits than other areas in forestry development, timber distribution and use of the forest fund.
[Article 8] The forestry department under the State Council shall be responsible for forestry work throughout the country.üü The forestry departments of the people's governments at the county level and above shall be responsible for forestry work in their respective areas.üü Full-time or parttime posts shall be set up in people's governments at the township level to take charge of forestry work.
[Article 9] Planting trees and protecting forests are the bounden duty of every citizen.üü People's governments at all levels shall launch afforestation activities and organize tree planting on a voluntary and nationwide basis.
[Article 10] The peopel's governments at various levels shall give commendation or material awards to units and individuals with outstanding achievements in tree planting, afforestation and forest protection and administration.
CHAPTER II FOREST MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
[Article 11] Forestry departments at all levels shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Law, administer and supervise the protection, utilization and regeneration of forest resources.
[Article 12] Competent forestry departments at all levels shall be responsible for organizing surveys and keeping files of records of forest resources so as to have a good grasp of the changes in forest resources.
[Article 13] The peopel's governments at all levels shall each work out a long-term forestry development plan.üü State-owned forestry enterprises and institutions as well as nature reserves shall, in accordance with the long-term forestry development plan, formulate their own forest management plans and submit them to the competent departments at the next higher level for approval before putting them into effect.
The competent forestry departments shall direct the rural collective economic organizations, state-owned agriculture and pastoral farms, industrial enterprises and mines in drawing up their forest management plans.
[Article 14] Disputes over ownership and right of use of trees and forest land arising between units owned by the whole people, between units owned by collectives or between units owned by the whole people and units owned by collectives shall be handled by people's governments at the county level or above.
Disputes over ownership and right of use of trees and forest land arising between individuals and between individuals and units owned by the whole people or collectives shall be handled by local people's governments at the county or township level.
A party to a dispute who refuses to accept the decision of the people's government may bring suit in a people's court within one month after receiving notification of the decision.
Pending a settlement of the dispute over the ownership or right of use of trees and forest land, neither of the parties may cut down the trees under dispute.
[Article 15] No forest land or only a small amount of forest land should be used in carrying out prospecting and designing, building engineering facilities or mining.üü When it is necessary to use or requisition forest land, the matter shall be dealt with in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.üü If 2,000 mu or more of forest land need to be used or requisitioned, an application shall be submitted to the State Council for approval.
CHAPTER III FOREST PROTECTION
[Article 16] Local people's governments at various levels shall enjoin the relevant departments to set up agencies to be responsible for forest protection.üü They shall, in light of the actual needs, increase facilities in large forest areas to strengthen forest protection, urge grass-roots units which own forests or which are located in forest areas to formulate forest protection pledges, mobilize the masses to protect the forests, delimit areas of responsibility for forest protection and appoint full-time or part-time forest guards.
Forest guards may be appointed by people's governments at the county or township level.üü The main duties of forest guards shall be: patrol the forests and prevent acts of destroying forest resources.üü Forest guards shall have the right to request local departments concerned to deal with those who have caused damage to forest resources.
[Article 17] Local people's governments at various levels shall adopt practical measures to prevent and fight forest fires:
(1) fix fire prevention periods.üü During such periods, it shall be forbidden to use fire in the open in a forest area.üü Where the use of fire is necessary under special circumstances, prior approval must be secured from a people's government at the county level or its authorized agency;
(2) install fire prevention facilities in the forest areas;
(3) immediately mobilize the local military and civilians as well as departments concerned to fight forest fire the moment it breaks out; and
(4) in case people are wounded, disabled or killed in fighting forest fires, those who are state employees shall be given medical treatment and pensions by their own units, which shall also grant pensions to families of the deceased.üü If the persons wounded, disabled or killed are not state employees, the medical treatment and pensions shall be provided by the units where the fire occurred, in accordance with the provisions laid down by the relevant competent departments under the State Council; if the units where the fire occurred are not responsible for causing the fire or are really incapable of bearing such expenses, the medical treatment and pensions shall be provided by the local people's government.
[Article 18] The competent forestry departments at various levels shall be responsible for organizing 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, setting up quarantine zones and protection zones and instituting quarantine on tree seeds and seedlings.
[Article 19] It shall be forbidden to cut down trees for the purpose of opening up farmland, quarrying and digging sand or earth as well as other activities of deforestation.
It shall be forbidden to cut firewood and graze in young growth areas and in forests for special uses.
People entering a forest or its fringe areas shall be forbidden to move or damage any markers set up in the service of forestry.
[Article 20] The competent forestry department under the State Council as well as people's governments of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government shall, for the purpose of better protection and administration, set up nature reserves in forest areas calling for special protection, such as areas with typical forest ecology in different natural regions, forest areas where rare plants and animals propagate, and natural tropical rain forests.
The administrative measures for nature reserves shall be formulated by the competent forestry department under the State Council 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; they shll not be cut or collected unless approved by the competent forestry department of a province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government.
[Article 21] It shall be forbidden to hunt wild animals that have been put under state protection in the forest areas.üü Where hunting of such animals is desired for special needs, the matter shall be dealth with in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations of the state.
CHAPTER IV TREE PLANTING AND AFFORESTATION
[Article 22] The people's governments at various levels shall work out afforestation plans and, in light of the specific local conditions, set forth targets for increasing the forest coverage of their respective areas.
People's governments at various levels shall organize people of all walks of life and urban and rural inhabitants to accomplish the tasks provided for in the afforestation plans.
Afforestation on barren hills and wastelands owned by the whole people that are suitable for afforestation shall be organized by the competent forestry departments and other competent departments; afforestation on collectively owned barren hills and wastelands shall be organized by collective economic organizations.
Afforestation of areas on both sides of railways, highways and rivers and around lakes and reservairs shall be organized by the competent departments concerned in light of the actual local conditions; afforestation in industrial and mining areas, on grounds occupied by government departments and schools, around army barracks as well as in areas managed by agricultural, pastoral and fish farms shall be carried out by those units respectively.
The barren hills and wastelands owned by the whole people and by collectives that are suitable for afforestation may be contracted by collectives or individuals for afforestation.
[Article 23] The forest trees planted by units owned by the whole pople shall be managed by such units, and they shall distribute the proceeds from those trees as provided for by the state.
Forest trees planted and managed by units under collective ownership shall be owned by them.
Trees planted by rural inhabitants around their houses and on privately farmed plots of cropland and hilly land shall be individually owned by themselves.üü Trees planted by urban inhabitants and staff and workers in the courtyards of their privately owned houses shall be individually onwed by themselves.
In cases where a collective or an individual contracts to afforest barren hills and wastelands owned by the whole people or by collectives that are suitable for afforestation, the forest trees planted pursuant to the contract shall be owned by the contracting collective or individual; if there are other provisions in the contract, such provisions of the contract shall be followed.
[Article 24] Local people's governments shall be responsible for closing the newly cultivated young growth land and hillsides that must be closed to facilitate afforestation.
CHAPTER V FOREST TREE CUTTING
[Article 25] The state shall, acting on the principle that the consumption of a timber forest should be lower than its growth, impose strict control on the annual forest cut.üü Annual quotas for cutting down forests and forest trees owned by the whole people shall be worked out, taking a state enterprise, institution, farm, factory or mine as unit, and annual quotas for cutting down forests and forest trees owned by the collective shall be worked out, taking the county as a unit.üü These quotas shall then be aggregated by the competent forestry departments of provinces, autonomous regions, or municipalities directly under the Central Government and examined by the people's governments at the corresponding level, before they are submitted to the State Council for approval.
[Article 26] The state shall draw up a unified annual timber production plan, which shall not exceed the approved annual cutting quota.üü The scope of planning management shall be stipulated by the State Ccouncil.
[rticle 27] The following provisions must be observed in cutting down a forest and forest trees:
(1) Selection cutting, clear cutting and gradual cutting may be carried out for mature timber forests in light of their different conditions.üü Clear cutting shall be strictly controlled and regenerative reforestation must be completed during the same year or the following year after such cutting has been carried out.
(2) Only cultivation cutting and regeneration cutting may be allowed in protective forests and in such forests for special uses as forests for national defence, seed forests, environmental protection forests and scenic forests.
(3) It shall be strictly forbidden to cut down forest trees in such forests for special uses as forest trees at scenic and historical spots and places with historic significance in the Chinese revolution as well as the forest trees in nature reserves.
[Article 28] Anyone who wants to cut down forest trees must apply for a cutting licence and carry out cutting operations according to the provisions of the cutting licence, but exceptions shall be made for rural inhabitants who want to cut down scattered trees belonging to themselves and growing on their private plots and around their houses.
Cutting licences required for state-owned forestry enterprises and institutions, government agencies, people's organizations, army units, schools as well as other state-owned enterprises and institutions to cut down forest trees shall be issued, after examination, by the competent forestry departments at or above the county level in the areas where they are located.
Cutting licences required for regeneration cutting of protective belts along railways and highways as well as forest trees in cities and towns shall be issued, after examination, by the competent departments concerned.
Cutting licences required for cutting down forest trees by rural collective economic organizations shall be issued, after examination, by the competent forestry departments at the county level.
Cutting licences required for rural inhabitants to cut down forest trees on hills allocated for their private use and forest trees of the collective that individuals have contracted for cultivation shall be issued, after examination, by the competent forestry department at the county level or the people's government at the township or town level authorized by it.
Provisions of the preceding paragraphs shall apply to cutting bamboo in bamboo forests cultivated mainly for producing bamboo timber.
[Article 29] The departments in charge of examining tree cutting applications and issuing cutting licences shall not issue cutting licences in excess of the approved annual cutting quotas.
[Article 30] When applying for cutting licences, state-owned forestry enterprises and institutions must submit documents of survey and design of the cutting area.üü When applying for cutting licences, other units must submit documents stating the purpose, location, area, types and existing state of the forest, the growing stock involved, the method of cutting, as well as regeneration measures.
In case a unit carries out timber felling operations in a cutting area in violation of the pertinent rules, the cutting licence issuing departments shall have the right to revoke its licence and order it to suspend its cutting operations until such violations are rectified.
[Article 31] Units or individuals engaged in timber felling must complete regenerative reforestation within the specified time limit and according to the requirements in terms of area, number of trees and types of trees provided for in the cutting licence.üü The area of reforestation and the number of trees to be planted must be larger than the cutting area and the number of trees already cut.
[Article 32] Measures for the management, supervision and administration of timber in forest areas shall be separately formulated by the State Council.
[Article 33] A transport licence issued by the competent forestry department shall be required for transporting timber out of a forest area, except for timber under unified distribution by the state.
With the approval of people's governments at the level of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government, timber checkpoints may be set up in forest areas to supervise timber transportation.üü The timber checkpoints shall have the right to stop anyone who transports timber without a transport licence or allocation notice issued by the competent department in charge of goods and material.
CHAPTER VI LEGAL LIABILITY
[Article 34] Whoever illegally cuts down trees, bamboo, etc., if the circumstances are minor, shall be ordered by the competent forestry department to compensate for the losses incurred and to plant several dozen times the number of trees cut down and pay a fine equal to three to ten times the unlawful income.üü Whoever denudes forests or other woodlands, if the circumstances are minor, shall be ordered by the competent forestry department to plant five times the number of trees denuded and pay a fine equal to two to five times the unlawful income.
Whoever illegall cuts down or denudes forest and other woodlands, if the circumstances are serious, shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with Article 128 of the Criminal Law.
Whoever illegally cuts down and appropriates a huge number of forest trees shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with Article 152 of the Criminal Law.
[Article 35] In cases where forest tree cutting licences are issued in excess of the approved annual cutting quotas or by overstepping authority in violation of this Law, the personnel directly responsible shall be given administrative sanctions; in cases where serious damage is caused to the forest, the personnel directly responsible shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with Article 187 of the Criminal Law.
[Article 36] Whoever counterfeits or resells forest tree cutting licences shall have his unlawful income confiscated and be fined by the competent forestry department; if the circumstances are serious, criminal responsibility shall be investigated by analogy to Article 120 of the Criminal Law.
[Article 37] Whoever reclaims land, quarries stones, digs sand or earth, gathers seeds or resin, cuts firewood or engages in other activities in violation of the Law and thereby causes damage to forests and forest trees shall be ordered by the competent forestry department to compensate for the losses incurred and to plant one to three trees for each one damaged.
[Article 38] The departments issuing cutting licences shall have the right to stop issuing licences to lumbering units or individuals that fail to accomplish their regeneration tasks as required; licences may be reissued to them only after they have completed the regeneration tasks.üü If the circumstances are serious, they may be fined by the competent forestry department, and those directly responsible shall be given administrative sanctions by the units to which they belong or by the competent department at the next higher level.
[Article 39] If a party refuses to accept the decision of the competent forestry department to impose a fine, it may file suit with a people's court within one month after receiving notification of the decision.üü If, upon the expiration of this period, the party has neither filed suit nor paid the fine, the competent forestry department may request the people's court for compulsory execution.
CHAPTER VII SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
[Article 40] The competent forestry department under the State Council shall, in accordance with this Law, formulate measures for its implementation, which shall go into effect after being submitted to and approved by the State Council.
[Article 41] In national autonomous areas in which the provisions of this Law cannot be applied in toto, the organs of self-government may, in light of the principle of this Law and the characteristics of the autonomous areas, formulate adoptive or supplementary provisions, which shall be submitted according to the legally prescribed procedure to the standing committee of the provincial or autonomous regional people's congress or to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval before they are implemented.
[Article 42] This Law shall go into effect on January 1, 1985.