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: Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

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

Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

4 hours ago

Oil services company Halliburton said Tuesday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' most disastrous oil spill.

Underwater grass comeback bodes well for Chesapeake Bay

5 hours ago

The Susquehanna Flats, a large bed of underwater grasses near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, virtually disappeared from the upper Chesapeake Bay after Tropical Storm Agnes more than 40 years ago. However, ...

Clean air halves health costs in Chinese city

7 hours ago

Air pollution regulations over the last decade in Taiyuan, China, have substantially improved the health of people living there, accounting for a greater than 50% reduction in costs associated with loss of life and disability ...

User comments : 0