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The ecological price of getting rich in a green desert: A contingent valuation study in rural Southwest China


  • Ahlheim, Michael
  • Börger, Tobias
  • Frör, Oliver


The cultivation of rubber trees in Xishuangbanna Prefecture in China's Yunnan Province has triggered an unprecedented economic development but it is also associated with severe environmental problems. Rubber plantations are encroaching the indigenous rainforests at a large scale and a high speed in Xishuangbanna. Many rare plant and animal species are endangered by this development, the natural water management is disturbed and even the microclimate in this region has changed over the past years. The present study aims at an assessment of these environmental costs of the economic progress in Xishuangbanna. To this end a Contingent Valuation survey is conducted to elicit local residents' willingness to pay for a reforestation program that converts existing rubber plantations back into forest. It is shown that though local people's awareness of the environmental problems caused by increasing rubber plantation is quite high their willingness to pay in order to change things is rather low. It seems that from the perspective of local residents the economic advantages of rubber cultivation outweigh the resulting environmental threats. Another explanation of the low willingness to pay stated in this survey might be the fact that many respondents consider taxes and fees already too high in China so that they are not willing to make any further contributions to whatever purpose.

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  • Ahlheim, Michael & Börger, Tobias & Frör, Oliver, 2012. "The ecological price of getting rich in a green desert: A contingent valuation study in rural Southwest China," FZID Discussion Papers 55-2012, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fziddp:552012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zhongmin, Xu & Loomis, John & Zhiqiang, Zhang & Hamamura, Kuino, 2006. "Evaluating the performance of different willingness to pay question formats for valuing environmental restoration in rural China," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(05), pages 585-601, October.
    2. Bennett, Michael T., 2008. "China's sloping land conversion program: Institutional innovation or business as usual?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 699-711, May.
    3. Wendy Y. Chen & C.Y. Jim, 2011. "Resident valuation and expectation of the urban greening project in Zhuhai, China," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(7), pages 851-869, October.
    4. Wang, Hua & Shi, Yuyan & Kim, Yoonhee & Kamata, Takuya, 2013. "Valuing water quality improvement in China: A case study of Lake Puzhehei in Yunnan Province," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 56-65.
    5. Zhongmin, Xu & Guodong, Cheng & Zhiqiang, Zhang & Zhiyong, Su & Loomis, John, 2003. "Applying contingent valuation in China to measure the total economic value of restoring ecosystem services in Ejina region," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 345-358, March.
    6. Ahlheim, Michael & Fror, Oliver, 2003. "Valuing the non-market production of agriculture," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 52(8).
    7. Michael Ahlheim & Benchaphun Ekasingh & Oliver Fror & Jirawan Kitchaicharoen & Andreas Neef & Chapika Sangkapitux & Nopasom Sinphurmsukskul, 2010. "Better than their reputation: enhancing the validity of contingent valuation mail survey results through citizen expert groups," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(2), pages 163-182.
    8. James Hammitt & Ying Zhou, 2006. "The Economic Value of Air-Pollution-Related Health Risks in China: A Contingent Valuation Study," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 33(3), pages 399-423, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ahlheim, Michael & Frör, Oliver & Langenberger, Gerhard & Pelz, Sonna, 2014. "Chinese urbanites and the preservation of rare species in remote parts of the country: The example of Eaglewood," FZID Discussion Papers 94-2014, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    2. Ahlheim, Michael & Börger, Tobias & Frör, Oliver, 2013. "The influence of ethnicity and culture on the valuation of environmental improvements: Results from a CVM study in Southwest China," FZID Discussion Papers 81-2013, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).

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    rubber cultivation; deforestation; contingent valuation method; environmental costs; China;

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