IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

China's sloping land conversion program: Institutional innovation or business as usual?

  • Bennett, Michael T.
Registered author(s):

    China's Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP) is the largest land retirement/reforestation program in the developing world, having the goal of converting 14.67 million hectares of cropland to forests by 2010 (4.4 million of which is on land with slopes greater than 25°) and an additional "soft" goal of afforesting a roughly equal area of wasteland by 2010. Pending successful completion it could represent a 10-20% increase in China's national forest area and a 10% decrease in current cultivated area. In contrast to China's other forest-sector policies, SLCP uses a public payment scheme that directly engages millions of rural households as core agents of project implementation, and has the stated principals of volunteerism. Thus, insofar as current or future de facto program implementation involves decentralized, voluntary grassroots participation, SLCP represents an important departure from "business as usual" in how China manages its forest resources. This work draws upon current available research of the program and uses a 2003 household and village-level survey conducted by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, CAS, to examine program design, implementation and outcomes to date. Results indicate that significant problems in design and implementation exist, with these including shortfalls in subsidies delivered, lack of respect of the principals of volunteerism, and insufficient technical support and budgeting for local implementation costs. More fundamentally, some program goals appear to be based on common misperceptions regarding the linkages between forests and watershed services. Overall, SLCP contains both innovative elements (volunteerism and the direct engagement of farmers) as well as components that hark back to policies and mindsets of decades past (the program's top-down, simplified contract structure, lack of sufficient consultation with local communities and rural households, and campaign-style mobilization). The paper concludes by providing four main suggestions to improve the program: 1) Increase local community input in design and implementation, and ensure that households have full autonomy in participation choice; 2) improve technical support and budgeting for local administrative costs and capacity building; 3) clarify the environmental services targeted and verify the measures needed to acquire these services; and 4) integrate SLCP into an overall package of complementary policies aimed at the rural sector.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4 (May)
    Pages: 699-711

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:65:y:2008:i:4:p:699-711
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:65:y:2008:i:4:p:699-711. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.