[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conflicts between local people's livelihoods and conservation have led to many unsuccessful conservation efforts and have stimulated debates on policies that might simultaneously promote sustainable management of protected areas and improve the living conditions of local people. Many government-sponsored payments-for-ecosystem-services (PES) schemes have been implemented around the world. However, few empirical assessments of their effectiveness have been conducted, and even fewer assessments have directly measured their effects on ecosystem services. We conducted an empirical and spatially explicit assessment of the conservation effectiveness of one of the world's largest PES programs through the use of a long-term empirical data set, a satellite-based habitat model, and spatial autoregressive analyses on direct measures of change in an ecosystem service (i.e., the provision of wildlife species habitat). Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) habitat improved in Wolong Nature Reserve of China after the implementation of the Natural Forest Conservation Program. The improvement was more pronounced in areas monitored by local residents than those monitored by the local government, but only when a higher payment was provided. Our results suggest that the effectiveness of a PES program depends on who receives the payment and on whether the payment provides sufficient incentives. As engagement of local residents has not been incorporated in many conservation strategies elsewhere in China or around the world, our results also suggest that using an incentive-based strategy as a complement to command-and-control, community- and norm-based strategies may help achieve greater conservation effectiveness and provide a potential solution for the park versus people conflict.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Conservation Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Household consumption is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Some behaviours (for example energy use and vehicle use) may have far larger impacts than others (for example green consumerism of household products). Here, the driving forces of green consumerism and two domestic energy uses (electricity consumption and vehicle fuel use) are compared. This study found that environmental attitudes predicted green consumerism, but not electricity consumption or vehicle fuel use. Furthermore, green consumerism was correlated with income and individual level demographic factors, while energy consumption was primarily predicted by household size and structural constraints. Because household energy consumption has greater environmental impacts than green consumerism, policies that aim to improve pro-environmental attitudes may not be effective in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Policies should rather aim to change structural constraints influencing transportation and household energy decisions and improve the conspicuousness of household energy consumption.
No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Environmental Conservation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasingly, the world is becoming socioeconomically and environmentally connected, but many studies have focused on human-environment interactions within a particular area. Although some studies have considered the impacts of external factors, there is little research on multiple reciprocal socioeconomic and environmental interactions between a focal area and other areas. Here we address this important knowledge gap by applying the new integrated framework of telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions between two or more areas over distances). Results show that even a protected area - i.e., the Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas in southwest China - has multiple telecoupling processes with the rest of the world; these include panda loans, tourism, information dissemination, conservation subsidies, and trade of agricultural and industrial products. The telecoupling processes exhibit nonlinear patterns, they change over time, and they have varying socioeconomic and environmental effects across the world. We also find complex relationships among different telecouplings - e.g., amplification, offsetting, spatial overlaps - which cannot be detected by traditional separate studies. Such an integrated study leads to a more comprehensive understanding of distant human-environment interactions and has significant implications for global sustainability and human well-being.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Payments for ecosystem services (PES) have increasingly been implemented to protect and restore ecosystems worldwide. The effectiveness of conservation investments in PES may differ under alternative policy scenarios and may not be sustainable because of uncertainties in human responses to policies and dynamic human-nature interactions. To assess the impacts of these interactions on the effectiveness of PES programs, we developed a spatially explicit agent-based model: human and natural interactions under policies (HANIP). We used HANIP to study the effectiveness of China’s Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) and alternative policy scenarios in a coupled human-nature system, China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, where indigenous people’s use of fuelwood affects forests. We estimated the effects of the current NFCP, which provides a cash payment, and an alternative payment scenario that provides an electricity payment by comparing forest dynamics under these policies to forest dynamics under a scenario in which no payment is provided. In 2007, there were 337 km² of forests in the study area of 515 km². Under the baseline projection in which no payment is provided, the forest area is expected to be 234 km² in 2030. Under the current NFCP, there are likely to be 379 km² of forests in 2030, or an increase of 145 km² of forests to the baseline projection. If the cash payment is replaced with an electricity payment, there are likely to be 435 km² of forests in 2030, or an increase of 201 km² of forests to the baseline projection. However, the effectiveness of the NFCP may be threatened by the behavior of newly formed households if they are not included in the payment scheme. In addition, the effects of socio-demographic factors on forests will also differ under different policy scenarios. Human and natural interactions under policies (HANIP) and its modeling framework may also be used to assess the effectiveness of many other PES programs around the world.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After long periods of deforestation, forest transition has occurred globally, but the causes of forest transition in different countries are highly variable. Conservation policies may play important roles in facilitating forest transition around the world, including China. To restore forests and protect the remaining natural forests, the Chinese government initiated two nationwide conservation policies in the late 1990s – the Natural Forest Conservation Program (NFCP) and the Grain-To-Green Program (GTGP). While some studies have discussed the environmental and socioeconomic effects of each of these policies independently and others have attributed forest recovery to both policies without rigorous and quantitative analysis, it is necessary to quantify the outcomes of these two conservation policies simultaneously because the two policies have been implemented at the same time. To fill this knowledge gap, this study quantitatively evaluated the effects of the two conservation policies on forest cover change between 2001 and 2008 in 108 townships located in two important giant panda habitat regions – the Qinling Mountains region in Shaanxi Province and the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary in Sichuan Province. Annual forest cover change rate was evaluated using a land-cover product (MCD12Q1) derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). This product proved to be highly accurate in the study region (overall accuracy was ca. 87%, using 425 ground truth points collected in the field), thus suitable for the forest change analysis performed. Results showed that within the timeframe evaluated, 94% of townships (i.e., 101 out of 108) in both regions exhibited either increases or no changes in forest cover. After accounting for a variety of socioeconomic and biophysical attributes, a linear regression model suggests that the GTGP had a positive and significant effect on the annual forest cover change rate after seven years of implementation. Our results also suggest that elevation has a significant positive effect on forest cover change, while the percentage of agricultural population, initial forest cover in 2001, and the interaction term of elevation and slope had negative significant effects. Findings from this study will be useful for evaluating the implementation of current conservation policies, designing future conservation policies, developing future giant panda habitat conservation projects, and achieving forest sustainability in China and elsewhere.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the linkages between ecosystem services (ES) and human well-being (HWB) is crucial to sustain the flow of ES for HWB. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) provided a state-of-the-art synthesis of such knowledge. However, due to the complexity of the linkages between ES and HWB, there are still many knowledge gaps, and in particular a lack of quantitative indicators and integrated models based on the MA framework. To fill some of these research needs, we developed a quantitative index system to measure HWB, and assessed the impacts of an external driver – the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake – on HWB. Our results suggest that our proposed index system of HWB is well-designed, valid and could be useful for better understanding the linkages between ES and HWB. The earthquake significantly affected households' well-being in our demonstration sites. Such impacts differed across space and across the five dimensions of the sub-index (i.e., the basic material for good life, security, health, good social relations, and freedom of choice and action). Since the conceptual framework is based on the generalizable MA framework, our methods should also be applicable to other study areas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conservation policies are emerging in many places around the world, many of which involve payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes. PES schemes provide economic incentives for forgoing land uses that reduce the provision of ecosystem services. The efficiency of such schemes depends not only on the ecosystem services provided by an area but also on the willingness of local people to forgo their land use activities. Targeting land for enrollment in PES schemes on the basis of the potential provision of ecosystem services and on the willingness to forgo certain economic activities, may therefore improve the efficiency of these schemes. The objective of this study was to develop a targeting approach, based on three surrogates derived from remotely sensed and ancillary data, for identifying land to be enrolled in one of the largest PES schemes in the world: China's Grain-to-Green Program (GTGP). The GTGP encourages farmers to return steep hillside cropland to forest by providing cash, grain and tree seedlings. The three surrogates used in the targeting approach were slope index, cropland probability, and GTGP enrollment probability. Combining these surrogates through Bernoulli trials allows targeting areas under cropland, with low opportunity costs for farmers and with potentially high soil erosion and landslide susceptibility. Results of applying the targeting approach in a case study area (Baoxing County, Sichuan Province, China) show that around half of the land currently enrolled is placed in areas with gentle slopes and tend to be located distant from forest areas. This reduces the potential benefits obtained from the GTGP. Targeting land using the proposed approach may double the benefits obtained from the program under the same budget, thus improving its efficiency. The approach may be applied to the entire GTGP implementation area in China and with proper modifications it may also be applicable to similar PES programs around the world.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Ecological Indicators
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapid environmental degradation in China makes understanding how perceived exposure to environmental harm influences environmental attitudes and participation in pro-environmental behaviors among the Chinese people crucial. We used a nation-wide survey dataset in urban China to test two hypotheses: experiencing environmental harm directly affects environmental behavior; environmental attitudes mediate the relationship between experiencing environmental harm and environmental behavior. We found respondents who experienced environmental harm had more pro-environmental attitudes. Experiencing environmental harm positively influenced pro-environmental behavior both directly and indirectly through the mediation of pro-environmental attitudes. Among the pro-environmental behaviors, environmental litigation was most strongly related with exposure to environmental harm. Our results suggest that more participation in pro-environmental behaviors may be expected as rapid economic development increases public exposure to environmental harm in urban China.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Debate about the substitutability of manufactured, natural, human, and social capital is at the heart of sustainability theory. Sociology can contribute to this debate by examining the processes and mechanisms by which one form of capital is substituted for another. The authors examine the substitution among different forms of capitals at China's Wolong Nature Reserve, where the consumption of an important aspect of natural capital, fuelwood, has serious consequences for the environment. The authors found that weak social ties to people in urban settings significantly increased rural-urban labor migration. Following the chain of capital substitutions, labor migration then significantly reduced fuelwood consumption. These findings indicate policies that facilitate the development of social capital between people in Wolong and people in urban areas could substantially reduce the consumption of local natural capital. Mechanisms by which different forms of capital are substituted for one another should be considered in improving global sustainability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conservation investments are increasingly being implemented through payments for ecosystem services (PES) for the protection and restoration of ecosystem services around the world. Previous studies suggested that social norms have substantial impacts on environmental behaviors of humans, including enrollment of PES programs. However, it is still not well understood how social norms are affected by the design of PES programs and how the evolution of social norms may affect the efficiency of conservation investments. In this paper, we developed an agent-based simulation model to demonstrate the evolution and impacts of social norms on the enrollment of agricultural land in a PES program. We applied the model to land plots that have been enrolled in China's Grain-to-Green Program (GTGP) to examine reenrollment in an alternative payment program when the current payments ceased. The study was conducted in Wolong Nature Reserve where several thousand plant and animal species, including giant pandas, may benefit from the reenrollment. We found that over 15% more GTGP land can be reenrolled at the same payment if social norms were leveraged by allowing more than ten rounds of interactions among landholders regarding their reenrollment decisions. With only three rounds of interactions, an additional 7.5% GTGP land was reenrolled at the same payment due to the effects of social norms. In addition, the effects of social norms were largest at intermediate payments and were smaller at much higher or much smaller payments. Even in circumstances where frequent interactions among landholders about their enrollment decisions are not feasible, policy arrangements that divide households into multiple waves for sequential enrollment can enroll over 11% more land at a given payment level. The approach presented in this paper can be used to improve the efficiency of existing PES programs and many other conservation investments worldwide.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Ecological Modelling
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protected areas worldwide are facing increasing pressures to co-manage human development and biodiversity conservation. One strategy for managing multiple uses within and around protected areas is zoning, an approach in which spatial boundaries are drawn to distinguish areas with varying degrees of allowable human impacts. However, zoning designations are rarely evaluated for their efficacy using empirical data related to both human and biodiversity characteristics. To evaluate the effectiveness of zoning designations, we developed an integrated approach. The approach was calibrated empirically using data from Wolong Nature Reserve, a flagship protected area for the conservation of endangered giant pandas in China. We analyzed the spatial distribution of pandas, as well as human impacts (roads, houses, tourism infrastructure, livestock, and forest cover change) with respect to zoning designations in Wolong. Results show that the design of the zoning scheme could be improved to account for pandas and their habitat, considering the amount of suitable habitat outside of the core zone (area designated for biodiversity conservation). Zoning was largely successful in containing houses and roads to their designated experimental zone, but was less effective in containing livestock and was susceptible to boundary adjustments to allow for tourism development. We identified focus areas for potential zoning revision that could better protect the panda population without significantly compromising existing human settlements. Our findings highlight the need for evaluating the efficacy of zoning in other protected areas facing similar challenges with balancing human needs and conservation goals, not only in China but also around the world.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Biological Conservation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conservation policies are increasing in response to human-induced ecosystem degradation, but little is known about their interplay with natural disasters. Through an analysis of satellite imagery and field data we evaluated the impacts of a devastating earthquake on forest recovery and avoided forest loss estimated to have been obtained by two of the largest conservation programs in the world. Results show that more than 10% of the forests in Wenchuan County, Sichuan province, China were immediately affected by the 2008 earthquake, offsetting some gains in forest cover observed since the enactment of the conservation programs. But without the enactment of these conservation programs, the combined effects of human disturbance and earthquake-induced landslides could have severely reduced the region's forest cover. The continuation--and enhancement--of incentives for participation in conservation programs will be important for reducing the environmental impacts of the combined effects of human disturbance and natural hazards not only in the study area but also in many disaster-prone regions around the world.
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: China currently faces severe environmental challenges, and information regarding the predictors of pro-environmental behaviour in China is needed to manage them. This study addresses this need by modelling the sociodemographic and attitudinal factors predicting pro-environmental behaviour in urban China. Pro-environmental behaviour was modelled as a function of environmental attitude (measured using the new environmental paradigm) and various sociodemographic characteristics. Respondents who were employed, holding leadership positions, living in larger cities and single were more likely to participate in pro-environmental behaviour. These results accord with previous studies suggesting being female, younger, highly educated and having environmentally oriented attitudes increased the odds of participating in pro-environmental behaviour. The rapid urbanization and economic development in China may significantly impact pro-environmental behaviour in the future.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Environmental Conservation