Manual Payment Schemes for Forest Ecosystem Services in China: Policy, Practices and Performance

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Eco-Compensation and What It Means for the World

Liu Xiaojing, The number of NDVI pixels was 1, Part of the analysis presented in this paper is based on interview results with local residents in the study area. Unfortunately, both the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam where this PhD research was undertaken did not have an ethics committee that reviews and approves social science survey research before interviewing took place.

The following steps were undertaken to ensure that the interviews were carried out in an ethical manner in accordance with national and international law:. The Mann-Whitney test is used throughout the paper to examine the significance of observed differences. On average, respondents in our sample are 41 years old, with no significant difference between farmers participating and not participating in the PES scheme. The average household size is 4.

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Of these, the number of working family members is 2. Also here no significant differences exist between the samples of participants and non-participants. Most respondents finished grade 7 of 12 , i. The average area of agricultural land held by PES participants 1.

Effectiveness of PES

Land used for agricultural production, i. Finally, PES participants tend to live on average significantly closer to the forest In the study area, participating farmers signed a PFES contract with the local forest owner, the Dran forest management board. In all participating households, one person provides labour to the PES program. When asked about the main reasons for participating in the PES scheme, the most common answer is to earn more income and fulfil their responsibility in protecting the forest. Although the farmers are not the official forest owners, they consider the forest a communal heritage requiring protection and care.

Forest protection consists mainly of patrolling the forest for illegal logging and fire prevention and is generally carried out by a group of seven or eight people. Participating farmers visit their assigned forest plot about 6 days per month.

Payment schemes for forest ecosystem services in China

The average area of forested land assigned to a household is All monetary data in this paper have been converted to US dollars. The amount of labour devoted to patrolling the forest, i. In this study, we employed tree-cover as a primary indicator for forest changes. Tree-cover is measured as the percentage of pixels covered by tree canopy. Using spatially explicit time-series satellite images of tree-cover can help identify forested areas [ 47 ] and monitor historical forest disturbance and re-growth [ 48 ].

We find a significant 4. As can be seen from Fig 1 , the VCF tree-cover peak Tree-cover drops to An important observation from Fig 1 is that tree cover was much more variable before the introduction of PES under previous forestry programs and seems to have stabilized more since In line with the results for tree-cover, average NDVI in and proves to be significantly higher than in and 0.

In addition to using satellite images, we also organized discussions with local forest authorities and the FPDF about the environmental effects of PES on the local forest ecosystem. Their responses confirm the results of the statistical analysis. Moreover, there has been an improvement in environmental awareness, not only among PES participants, but throughout the community.

What are ecosystem services?

When asked about their attitude towards forest protection and the significance of forests to society, all respondents stressed the need to protect forests as a vital ecosystem that supplies fresh water and good air quality and prevents flooding. The difference in gross income between participating and non-participating households was measured at two points in time: in before PES was piloted in Lam Dong and in , 6 years after PES was introduced in Vietnam in In order to ensure comparability across the whole time period, only households who had participated in the PES scheme since the pilot phase in were included in the income analysis.

This yields a total of observations PES participants and 94 non-participants. However, as the second pair of bars in Fig 2 shows, the income gap between the two groups has narrowed considerably since In fact, we observe no significant difference in the income levels between PES participants and non-participants even though the average income of non-participating households is still higher than that of participating households. Also per capita income of non-participating households is 1.

Prior to the PES introduction, no statistically significant difference in pre-PES income was found between the majority and minority ethnic groups participating in PES, implying that both groups were equally poor or rich before participating in the PES scheme.

Six years after their participation in PES, a significant difference was detected between household income of the minority and majority groups, where the latter has a lower income than the former. Zooming in on agricultural production, i. However, this difference proves to be statistically insignificant. Agricultural production costs, on the other hand, including the purchase of seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and the hiring of labor, are significantly higher for non-participants 1.

Changes in the relative income share of different livelihoods agriculture, forestry and hired labour are found to differ significantly between participants and non-participants see S1 Fig. The average share of agricultural income is consistently higher for non-participants, both before and during PES.

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Before the introduction of PES, the share of forestry income was similar for participating and non-participating households 4. Finally, other sources of income e. The magnitude of income inequality between PES participants and non-participants was assessed by calculating the Gini coefficients for the two groups. The current income distribution is more equal among PES participants than non-participants. The same finding is reported in a study by [ 43 ] related to one of the largest PES schemes in the world in China. Before the implementation of PES, the Gini coefficient was slightly higher for participants 0.

The robustness of the treatment effects model was tested by comparing the results for the relative income change with those obtained from the same model estimated for the absolute change in income in Table 1. The effects appear to be exactly the same and hence robust.

Effectiveness of PES

The estimated models are furthermore highly significant as can be seen from the outcome of the Wald test. A negative relationship is observed for all these explanatory variables. Older respondents are less likely to participate in the PES scheme than younger respondents. In line with prior expectations and comparable to the findings reported in [ 50 ], increasing distance significantly decreases the likelihood of PES participation. Similarly, households involved in forestry programs before are found to be less likely to participate in PES, possibly because of the low payment rates received in the past.

Families who earned less money prior to PES implementation, and hence had lower opportunity costs, tend to be more motivated to participate in the scheme as a means of acquiring additional income. With regards to the change in household income, a significant positive effect is detected for the following variables: PES participation, the number of years a farmer is in the PES scheme since not all respondents have been participating since the beginning , the number of working family members, and agricultural land size.

Most findings are in line with prior expectations. Household participation in PES has a significant positive influence on the change in household income whilst controlling for other explanatory factors. A positive relationship is also detected for the number of years a farmer participates in the PES scheme: the longer the farmer participates, the more absolute and relative income changes.

Similarly, an increase in agricultural land size or the amount of family labour helps to raise household income.