BEIJING -- The total area of new forests created in China stood at 7.36 million hectares last year, up 8.46 percent, a report showed Sunday.
The growth was partly attributed to public participation in voluntary tree planting, according to the report from the National Afforestation Committee.
Last year, the committee approved internet-based tree planting in Beijing, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Anhui and Shaanxi provinces to allow easy participation in the greening process based on information technology.
Local governments have also sought new ways to encourage public participation, including the creation of themed or memorial forests.
China has raised "ecological construction" to an unprecedented level over the past few years, with afforestation one of its important projects in this regard.
The country aims to expand its forest coverage ratio to more than 23 percent by 2020 to combat climate change and soil erosion, up from 21.7 percent in 2015.
China will mark its 40th Tree Planting Day, also known as Arbor Day, Monday.