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Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao. 2007 Jul;18(7):1601-9.

[Forest degradation/decline: research and practice].

[Article in Chinese]

Author information

  • 1Qingyuan Experimental Station of Forest Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences & Liaoning Key Laboratory for Management of Non-commercial Forests, Shenyang 110016, China.


As one of the most critical environmental problems in the 21st century, forest degradation has been facing worldwide. There are many definitions about forest degradation, but its common features are the permanent loss of forests, stand structure destructed, forest quality decreased, and forest functions lowered. Forest decline or tree decline in fact is one of the causes of forest degradation, which includes the general reduction of trees in vigor, low level growth of trees in productivity, death of trees, and even, decline of soil fertility. Many researches indicated that deforestation is the permanent loss of forests in area, which is shifted to other land uses. Deforestation is the product of the interactions between environmental, social, economic, cultural, and political forces at work in any given country/region, and thus, more and more attention is focused on the negative socioeconomic and environmental effects after forest degradation, especially on the reduction of forest area induced by deforestation. The effects of any decisions or policies in national and international levels on forest degradation induced by deforestation have been paid attention as well. How to make efforts and strengthen the worldwide cooperation to combat the forest degradation induced by deforestation must be challenged to find appropriate solutions. There are many researches on forest decline, because of its complexity and uncertainties. The major causes of forest decline include: 1) pollution from both industry and agriculture, 2) stress factors, e.g., desiccation, 3) changes in stand dynamics, 4) decline disease of forest or diseases of complex etiology, 5) degradation of productivity and/or soil fertility in pure plantation forests. Forest degradation in China is similar to that all over the world, but with the characteristics in forest components, i.e., 1) secondary forests are the major forest resources, 2) China has the most plantation forests in the world, some of which have low qualities or functions. Based on the above reviews and perceptions on forest degradation and related practices, the main causes of contemporary forest degradation were summarized, and the general countermeasures for combating forest degradation/decline were given.

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