Why did the Chinese cut down all the trees?

My six-year-old nephew asked me that a little bit ago and I did not have a good answer.

“Well, lot’s of people use trees for lots of reasons. They make paper, build homes, and stuff like baseball bats. But I think the Chinese also use a lot of bamboo instead… Or is that the Japanese?”

“No! Why did they cut down all the trees?”

“I don’t think they did. I am fairly certain that there are lots of trees in China. Not that I ever really thought of China as a crountry known for its trees, but I am sure that they have plenty.”

“Not in China. Why did they cut down all of them?”

“I don’t think that they did.”


“Well… I don’t know Zack.”
I don’t want to leave my nephew wallowing in doubt and ignorance! :frowning:
Can you guys please tell me why the Chinese cut down all of the trees?

This is a GQ?

I suspect the nephew may have picked up a particular element of something-or-other (perhaps clearance for the Three Gorges Dam, for example), and extrapolated it to ‘China’. Or he was told that there’s no trees in paddy fields, and again took this to an apparently- logical conclusion. The only way you’ll figure it out is by asking him what trees, who told him they were cut down, etc.

I’ve lived in China and their are plenty of trees.


Seems to be plenty of trees here.

China has a huge deforestation problem. China also has one of the largest reforestation programs in the world.

“The report shows that every year, an average of 2,460sq km [950sq miles] of vegetated land in China deteriorates into desert and another one million hectares of land suffers from serious land erosion.”

Key forest stats for China:
17.5% of China’s land area is covered with forest according to FAO figures from 2000
China gained an average of 1,806,000 hectares of forest per year between 1990 and 2000
China’s average annual reforestation rate was 1.2% between 1990 and 2000

Long story short, China was already forest short when China’s population really balloned in the 1950’s combined with the disasterous Great Leap Forward, which raped the environment and then the general anarchy of the Cultural Revolution combined with unbridled capitalism resulted in a pretty serious problem.

Search is your friend:

Is it possible he may have heard someone use the phrase “for all the tea in China”, and misheard “tea” as “tree”?

Just a thought…

“Can you guys please tell me why the Chinese cut down all of the trees?”

To ensure that any chickens trying to cross the road would be hit logging trucks.

The Chinese did not cut down ALL the trees. They cut down many because they a) needed the wood to burn for warmth, b) needed the wood for houses. There are still many trees in China–I’ve seen them. See China Guy’s post for details.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of trees grow there? Hard wood? Soft wood? Any species the same as North America? Any species peculiar to China?

[Guessing in GQ]

If he’s six and he has no details to clarify the question and the question happens to be in the form of a rhyming couplet . . .

I really just think it’s a silly children’s rhyme, much like the one that speculates about the girls in France who like to do the hoochie dance. (American) Children also seem to have some fascination with the Chinese in general, remeber: children were the first ones to uncover the whole Coke scandal.

[/Guessing in GQ]

Tell him they used them for filler in beaf, been, and cheese burritos for export to the U.S.A.

I seem to remember reading that there is actually quite a bit of diversity in the temperate zone trees found in China. The reason given was that unlike North America and Europe that part of Asia had not undergone glaciation during the last Ice Age and so many types of trees that were wiped out elsewhere continued to persist in China.

bienville: Children were the first to uncover the “Coke scandal”? Which scandal? How did kids uncover it? :confused:

Something about urine contamination of your Coke. They thought it would be funny, I guess.

In Vancouver recently, I was told that property owners of Chinese origin do not like trees for some reason and often cut them down. Vancouverites are proud of their trees, but some are resentful about all the real estate money that’s come in from Hong Kong, so maybe this just Canada Not-Nice at work.

Hah, no, Chinese people actually do cut down all the trees on their property. That’s a generalisation, of course, but an accurate one. Our family has several trees in our yard but a lot of other families chop down their trees as soon as they move in. They have no problem with trees elsewhere though :stuck_out_tongue:

Laughing Lagomorph, if you will indulge me, please open the refrigerator and take out the Coke. Drink it. Put it back.

Me Chinese.
Me play Joke!
Me put pee pee in your Coke!


You know, after I had hit send I said to myself: “He couldn’t be referring to…

Bolding mine.


China is not unbridledly capitalistic today, and certainly never has been since the cultural revolution. Capitalism has called environmental damage (so far, every known form of economy has), but I’m pretty sure China’s Communism did more.

There are several competing schools of thought on the matter

Numero Uno

The devastation was the result of a shen gong wu battle between Grand Master Dashi and Wu Ya. Some say it was the Sword Of The Storm. Some say it was the Golden Tiger Claws. Others say it somehow involved the Hae Lin Seed and the Reversing Mirror.

Numero Uno Part Dieux

Some say it involved nothing more than Dojo having a really nasty cold.
Numero Duo

Others say that the Shadow Khan and the armies of the eight demons deliberately destroyed China’s resources in order to subjugate the humans. According to this theory, only the courage and wisdom of the eight immortals saved China and the world.
Numero Duo Part Doo

Others say that Shen Doo, the fire demon, accidentally destroyed the forests after discovering he was allergic to cats.
Numero Threeo

Chinese wood was the original ingredient in a delicacy known as the Kra Bi patty. A Heike (should be an accent over the second e) crab built a great feasting hall beneath the sea. His fame spread to land. The emperor Po Sai Dun had his royal magicians devise a means for him to walk beneath the sea. Po Sai Dun became very fond of Heike’s hall. This particular Heike was very fond of gold, and the emperor was happy to pay it. The legends are unclear, but one of the Star Lords (also called the Star Brothers) may have also been involved. There is mention of Pah To Rik Xing (xing means star. sometimes spelled tsing, sing, etc), a man with bright pink skin clad only in strange green shorts, and possessed of enormous appetite.
Other cooks grew jealous of the Heike crab’s success. No threat, bribe, or torture could induce him or his assistant cook (referred to as- the yellow fool, the wearer of square trousers, and the dweller in the house of fruit on the ocean’s floor) to reveal the secret of the Kra Bi patty. Various rumors were started. The rumor that caught on was that a certain kind of wood was the secret ingredient. Already at a wood shortage, this caused mass grabbing of lumber. Soon there was a wood panic. As rumors flew, various woods were traded. The whole thing is very similar to the tulip speculation of Holland. The bottom fell out when it became clear that no human knew the secret ingredient. With the country in poverty, the Heike crab moved his feasting hall in search of more gold.

Questions like this make me wish Calvin’s Dad was still around…