Geographies in Depth

China has sent 60,000 soldiers to plant trees

Soldiers arrive for a military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA)  at the Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RC1A4C86AD40

New marching orders ... an entire army regiment has just been deployed to fight China's air pollution. Image: Reuters

Laura Oliver
Writers, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Geographies in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of the Environment is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of the Environment

China has given more than 60,000 soldiers a new order: planting trees to create new forests.

According to Asia Times, a regiment of the People’s Liberation Army and China’s armed police force have been removed from their posts in northern border areas. The task is part of efforts to tackle high levels of air pollution.

The project is a big one. China plans to grow 6.66 million hectares of new forest this year, having already created 33.8 million hectares (338,000 square kilometres) of forest in the past five years, says Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, in a report from Reuters. The country wants to increase the area of land covered by woodlands from 21.7% in 2016 to 23% by 2020, according to China Daily.


The majority of the reassigned soldiers will work in the heavily polluted Hebei Province, where three new state forests are planned. The province is often blamed for producing the fumes and smog that cover Beijing and northern China, and has committed to increasing its forest coverage to 35% by the end of 2020.

The re-assignment won't come as a total surprise: several staff have been switched to non-military missions since plans to cut 300,000 troops were announced in 2015. According to Asia Times, the redeployed troops are not unhappy: planting trees inland gets them away from the tough living conditions on China’s northern borders.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Geographies in DepthNature and Biodiversity
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

The Horn of Africa's deep groundwater could be a game-changer for drought resilience

Bradley Hiller, Jude Cobbing and Andrew Harper

May 16, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum