Sept. 10 – Beginning this month, a new regulation will require developers to reclaim land from the local arable land reserve or pay local land authorities for the amount of land they reclaim.
It will also allow reclaimed land to be primarily reserved for farmers. The regulation calls for local governments to expand their land reserve bank by reclaiming more land or adjusting the existing land market.
Regions who fail to meet their land reclamation quota will be subject to a cut in construction land quota the following year.
The regulation is applicable to all projects except those deemed key projects of national significance like the South to North Water Diversion Project and the high-speed railway linking Beijing and Shanghai.
It is part of the latest set of measures introduced by Beijing to regulate the country’s depleting land supply.
Since 1998, developers wanting to get land already planned for usage by local governments would only provide compensation through land reclamation.
Huang Hetu, a deputy division director in charge of arable land protection with the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) told China Daily that developers working on projects that were not considered in land planning by local authorities, or those that were deemed “important projects”, such as covering the hydraulic, military and power sectors, could first acquire the land before providing compensation.
Such exceptions have caused many problems, resulting in imbalances in the local land market and cutting the quantity of land in reserve, said Huang.
Li Xiaoyun from the Chinese Agriculture University told China Daily that illegal arable land acquisition has been rampant due to urbanization and cheap rural land prices.
These practices have decreased the country’s supply of arable land; from 127.6 million hectares in 2001 to 121.73 million last year. The current rate of arable land is only 1.73 million hectares above the critical level of 120 million hectares slated for 2020.
Presently, China has around 13.3 million hectares of reserve land, with only an estimated 40 percent of the reserves considered to have good irrigation conditions.
According to the MLR, China has added more than 2.7 million hectares of arable land through required land reclamation in the past nine years to make up for land lost to construction and natural disasters.