Tallying the wins and losses of policy

Jul 01, 2013
This is a logged area in China's Wolong Nature Reserve, an activity being curtailed to encourage forest regrowth. Credit: Wu Yang, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

In the past decade, China as sunk some impressive numbers to preserve its forests, but until now there hasn't been much data to give a true picture of how it has simultaneously affected both the people and the environment.

Michigan State University, partnered with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has capitalized on their long history of research in the Wolong Nature Reserve to get a complete picture of the environmental and socioeconomic effects of payments for programs.

"Performance and prospects of payments for ecosystem services programs: evidence from China" has been published in the Journal of Environmental Management. In it, Wu Yang, a doctoral student in Michigan State University's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and center director Jianguo "Jack" Liu, the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, outline the wins and losses in one of the world's richest areas of biodiversity, and home to the endangered .

China's tally: $15 billion to ban logging encourage new forests; $32 billion to persuade 32 million rural households to return 8.8 million hectares of cropland back to forest.

The group examined both the people and the environment from as big a picture as trends of the forest from decades of land cover maps, to surveying individual households to understand how their behaviors changed as policies were introduced. Payments for ecosystem services programs – programs in which people were given incentives to change their behavior so the forest around them could recover – have been an enormous effort in China and worldwide.

The work found that China's offering people incentives to change how they live to boost the environment did benefit the forest and the environment – but not without a toll on the people who live there.

The article emphasizes the importance of integrating local conditions and understanding underlying mechanisms to enhance the performance of payments for ecosystem services programs. The article also notes that understanding some of the impacts raises questions for future policy – about whether such policies could be made more efficient, is it ethical to make conservation gains at the cost of people's livelihoods, cultural identity and other issues.

Explore further: New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

More information: csis.msu.edu/sites/csis.msu.ed… vices%20programs.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making sustainability policies sustainable

Nov 30, 2012

Sweeping environmental policies come with hidden challenges – not only striving to achieve sustainability and benefit the environment – but over time ensuring the program itself can endure.

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

16 hours ago

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

21 hours ago

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

Aug 22, 2014

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 0