Social-Ecological Impacts of China’s Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs on Land Use, Migration and Livelihoods Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Zhang, Qi
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • Payments for ecosystem services (PES) has emerged as an innovative approach to address the problems in the human-environment nexus. Understanding the ecological and socio-economic impacts of PES programs is essential to the sustainability of environmental goods and services conserved by these programs. The Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program (CCFP) and the Ecological Welfare Forest Program (EWFP) were among the major PES programs initiated in China in the late 1990s. This dissertation draws on data collected from household surveys to investigate human adaptation to the socio-economic and environmental changes in Tiantangzhai Township, Anhui, China, where both CCFP and EWFP were implemented. I found that the PES programs, together with other factors, both directly and indirectly affected cropland abandonment, individual out-migration and rural livelihoods. Proximity of land parcels to the nearest CCFP and EWFP forests increases the likelihood of cropland abandonment. Households receiving higher EWFP payments are associated with higher probabilities of cropland abandonment. I also found that the CCFP and EWFP have different effects on individual’s out-migration decisions. The CCFP compensation increases the likelihood of out-migration partly because it not only covers initial migrating costs but also releases farm labor after enrolling their cropland in the program. However, the EWFP compensation has an opposite though far smaller effect on out-migration. Out-migration is also affected by other variables such as individual attributes, household characteristics and community factors. Lastly, CCFP households have a higher and more diversified sources of income than households without CCFP. CCFP households diversify their livelihoods by investing in agriculture (intensifying land use), raising farm animals and using forest resources. In addition, income inequality among CCFP households is greater than that among nonparticipants. Remittances increase total income inequality for all households regardless whether their participation in the CCFP. Local off-farm income, however, have the opposite effects for the two types of households. A random effect regression analysis suggests EWFP payments significantly increase total income and add to income inequality while CCFP payments make little contribution to income inequality. Overall, these findings provide valuable inputs for policy makers aiming to achieve sustainability for PES programs in the future.
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  • In Copyright
  • Chen, Xiaodong
  • Song, Conghe
  • Walsh, Stephen J.
  • Jagger, Pamela
  • Bilsborrow, Richard E.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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