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2007-08-29 | story

Forest tenure reform in China

This is an example of how EfD research can influence policy, more specifically Forest tenure reform in China.

"The research project provided balanced information on the actual pace and performance of tenure reform in different localities and educated policy makers to be more patient and realistic with regard to results of tenure reform and its complexity. These points were well taken by government officials. Indications of the policy relevance of the research include the fact that EEPC researchers were invited to several high level government held meetings to present findings and suggestions."

                                                                        Professor Jintao Xu, coordinator of EfD China

It is always a difficult task to achieve balance between economic development and environmental protection including natural resource conservation. Forest Tenure Reform in China’s collective forests is a process of historical importance with widespread and long-lasting impacts. It sets the institutional foundation for sustainable economic development and forest resource use in China’s mountainous and forest areas, leading to the most profound changes in the New Countryside Development Initiatives.

Most of the works by EfD China/Environmental Economics Program in China (EEPC) focus on forest policy, in recent years on reforming of state forest sector and collective tenure system. These two themes have been top priority on the agenda of central government and have merged into the broader national agenda of establishing a new countryside. It has been widely acknowledged that lack of appropriate mechanism and incentive in the state forest sector, as well as lack of secure forest tenure for farmers in collective forest sector, underpins more severe poverty in forested areas and unsatisfactory performance of forest resource conservation. Research of EEPC has provided academia and the government agencies most comprehensive information with regard to baseline situation in these two major forest sectors. Our policy recommendations are also influential.

The survey and research on the reform of collective forest tenure in China was commissioned by State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China. A policy brief on improving eco-compensation system at forest sector was solicited by SFA and prepared by EfD China/EEPC fellows in April 2007. A briefing workshop was held at the department of policy and legislation of SFA in July 2007. The purpose of the workshop was to provide review of our surveys on collective forest tenure reforms in the past year. Our presentations covered topics of survey methods, trends in tenure reform process and issues to be noticed. Preliminary findings from our tenure surveys have also been presented at the following workshops during 2007: Eco-Summit; Annual conference of Association of Forestry Technical Economics; Sino-Germany Conference on Sustainable Forestry Development; Workshop on Environmental Management Reform.

In addition, Professor Jintao Xu was appointed as an exterior reviewer of the draft “Guidance of Tenure Reform in Collective Forest Areas”, issued by Central Government in July, 2008. By September 2007, EfD China/EEPC had carried out tenure surveys in 9 provinces at both household and village level, with data analyzed and database established. Final results of the research project were reported at two international conferences on forest tenure and regulatory reform, held in 2006 and 2008, respectively.

Researchers involved: EfD China, Peking University: Professor Jintao Xu, Dr Xuemei Jiang, PhD student Yan Sun EfD Sweden/University of Gothenburg: PhD candidate Ping Qin, Professor Fredrik Carlsson, Associate Professor Håkan Eggert.