AUG 05, 2017 7:58 AM PDT

To restore China's rural forests, pay rural communities for biodiversity efforts

A new study from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), Princeton University, and Sun Yat-sen University suggests that paying rural communities could give incentives to protect and restore native forests on private lands. China has dedicated its efforts to restore forests that have been cut down to build plantations, but little progress has been seen. In an attempt to change this, the study recommends looking from a new perspective.

"Land collectively owned by rural communities accounts for 60% of China's forest land and the vast majority of China's newly-established forest cover," said Fangyuan Hua, lead author of the study. Collective forest land (CFL)—land owned by rural households/communities—also holds roughly half of China’s remaining native forests.

Hua continues, "However, existing forest policies largely neglect collectively-owned lands and provide no mechanism for restoring native forests on them." That’s why native forests are still being cut, even though the numbers show that China’s total forest cover has risen in the last 20 years.

The study, published in Conservation Letters, says that the existing compensation schemes do not take into account factors of biodiversity and ecosystem health. Currently, most compensation schemes in China only consider the simple metric of forest cover, not the biodiversity. Unfortunately, that means that the incentive is on the farmer to reforest larger swaths of monoculture tree cover even though restoring the biodiversity of tree species would have a higher value for an ecosystem as a whole. The authors of the study say this is what the compensation schemes should take into account, and this is what must change in order to make real progress with reforestation.

Reforestation efforts incentivize monoculture plantations. Photo: OISCA International

“Rectifying these deficiencies requires that China's management approach toward CFL forests recognize the value of forests, especially native forests, for things other than tree crop production,” writes the study.

The study points towards the Mechanism of Compensation for Ecological Protection (MCEP) to fix this. This policy is still being designed and has the potential to make much-needed changes in China’s compensation schemes. "The MCEP offers a chance for the Chinese government to establish effective, socially just compensation standards for native forest restoration," said Hua. "Rural communities would receive badly-needed income, while benefits such as improved soil health, greater biodiversity, and reduced erosion would benefit society as a whole. China should not let this opportunity slip away."

Sources: World Agroforestry, Conservation Letters, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
AUG 25, 2021
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
August 25th is National Secondhand Wardrobe Day! Today we celebrate reusing clothing and keeping it from ending up ...
SEP 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
New Comb Jelly Species Revealed by Genetic Study
SEP 05, 2021
New Comb Jelly Species Revealed by Genetic Study
Genetic research has now revealed more about comb jellies, also known as ctenophores, which are delicate and mysterious ...
SEP 08, 2021
Plants & Animals
Are the skeletons of macaque hybrids distinct?
SEP 08, 2021
Are the skeletons of macaque hybrids distinct?
New research sheds insight into the evolution of the human pelvis by using macaque hybrid models.
SEP 28, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Using UAVs to Study the Environment
SEP 28, 2021
Using UAVs to Study the Environment
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are a relatively new technology for the general public at an affordable cost ...
OCT 18, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Bugs Tell Scientists How Polluted Waters Are
OCT 18, 2021
Bugs Tell Scientists How Polluted Waters Are
Water quality changes all over the globe as humans change land use and develop communities near water. The increase in t ...
OCT 17, 2021
Microbiology
Harmless Microbes Can be Pressured to Turn Bad
OCT 17, 2021
Harmless Microbes Can be Pressured to Turn Bad
The world is full of microorganisms. Luckily, most pose no threat to us. But some harmless bacteria have the potential t ...
Loading Comments...