assessing the impact of the sloping land conversion programme on rural sustainability in guyuan,...


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    were still tolerable. The FoPIA results were evaluated against the available literature on the SLCP. Overall, the assessment results appeared to be

    land degradation & developmentLand Degrad. Develop. (2012)

    Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyokeywords: land conversion; land use; afforestation; land use functions; Grain forGreen Project; ex-ante impact assessment; sustainable development; stakeholder participation


    The remote and less-developed region of Guyuan in WesternChina is threatened by vast soil erosion and land degradationproblems due to fragile soils, droughts and increasing con-sumption of natural resources by a growing population. Theimpact of land conversion programmes on rural sustainabilityin such a problematic area is of particular interest, the infor-mation has the potential to help avoid a further worseningof undesired development trends.In 1999, the Chinese government initiated the nationwide

    sloping land conversion programme (SLCP), also known asthe Grain for Green Project to tackle this problem (Xuet al., 2004). The programme was implemented by convert-ing crop production on erosion prone land with steep slopesinto forests and grassland in large parts of the upper Yellowand the Yangtze River basins (Xu et al., 2006). Besides

    having the major goal of reducing land degradation, the SLCPalso aimed at alleviating rural poverty and at stimulatingeconomic development in rural regions (Bennett, 2008;Grosjean and Kontoleon, 2009). Cropland on slopes steeperthan 25 degrees was intended to be converted into ecologicalforests (with primary ecological functions) and grassland,whereas cropland on slopes between 15 and 25 degrees wasintended to be converted into economic forests or grasslandincluding fruit orchards and timber plantations (Weyerhaeuseret al., 2005; Ye et al., 2003). Between 2000 and 2009, 48per cent of the cropland was been converted into forest landin Guyuan, according to regional experts. Between 2010 and2016, an additional 34 per cent of cropland will be retiredand used for afforestation purposes.Farmers affected by the programme are supposed to

    receive compensation as cash (300Yuan per ha) and grains(1500 kg per ha) (Bennett, 2008). Financial compensationis provided for varying duration, depending on the type ofconversion: 2 years for conversion into grassland, 5 years

    *Correspondence to: H. J. Knig, Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural LandscapeResearch (ZALF) e.V., Eberswalder Strae 84, D-15374 Mncheberg,contributing to economic and social benets in Guyuan. Copyright reasonable, but the results of the regional stakeholders appeared to be too optimistic compared with the more critical assessment of the scientists.The SLCP seems to have the potential to tackle soil erosion but requires integrated forest management to minimize the risk of water stress while

    2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.ON RURAL SUSTAINABILITY

    H. J. KNIG1,3*, L. ZHEN2, K. HELMING1, S. UT1Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZAL

    2Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Ac3Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Po

    Received: 13 July 2011; Revised:


    The goal of Chinas sloping land conversion programme (SLCP) is tof possible SLCP impacts was conducted with a focus on rural sustainexample. The Framework for Participatory Impact Assessment (FoPassessing SLCP impacts at regional level and a second one assessing athe economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.erosion but felt it negatively affected rural employment, and a furthermanagement scenarios by scientists showed that an orientation towarsions. Ecological forests had disproportionate positive impacts on endimensions. Economic forests were assessed to serve primarily the ecGermany.E-mail: hkoenig@zalf.dePresent address: Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning & Design Institute,Environmental & Infrastructural Division, 1A, East Qinghe Jiayuan, Beijing100085, China


    1, L. YANG2, X. CAO2 AND H. WIGGERING1,3

    V., Eberswalder Strae 84, 15374 Mncheberg, Germanyy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100101 PR China, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 2425, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany

    ch 2012; Accepted: 5 April 2012


    bat soil erosion and to reduce rural poverty. An ex-ante assessmenty, taking the drought-prone region of Guyuan in Western China as anwas used to conduct two complementary impact assessments, onetive forest management options, to explore possible trade-offs amongional stakeholders assessed the SLCP to be capable of reducing soilnuation of the Programme was advocated. Assessment of three forestergy forests is potentially benecial to all three sustainability dimen-mental functions and adverse impact on the other two sustainabilityic and social sustainability dimensions, while environmental impacts DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2164for conversion into economic forests, and for a maximum8 years for conversion into ecological forests.The SLCP has widely been recognized as being effective

    in terms of land conversion efforts with a total size of

  • 146 000 square kilometres of cropland being converted atnational level between 1999 and 2010 (Yin and Yin,2010). Several studies have attempted to evaluate the SLCP,for example, related to food security issues (e.g., Feng et al.,2005; Peng et al., 2007; Xu et al., 2006; Yang, 2004), soilproperties (e.g., Cao et al., 2007; Chen et al., 2007b;Zhang et al., 2010), water balance (e.g., Chen et al.,2007a; Gates et al., 2011; Huang and Pang, 2011; Sunet al., 2006) as well as aspects of programme implementa-tion, participation and effectiveness (e.g., Bennett, 2008;Uchida et al., 2007; Xu et al., 2004; Yin and Yin, 2010).In summary, most available SLCP impact studies lookedat economic and social aspects, whereas few studies inves-tigated environmental impacts (this might be reasonablebecause quantitative data related to forest ecology requirelong-term monitoring systems). However, none of thesestudies have integrated all dimensions of sustainabilityyet, nor have they adequately the ex-ante impacts of theSLCP at aggregated level.In this study, an attempt is made to combine regional

    stakeholder knowledge with scientic expertise in order toconduct a more comprehensive and reected impact assess-ment study. Stakeholder participation in environmental stud-ies can be used, for example, to integrate local knowledge(Stringer and Reed, 2007; Vogt et al., 2011) and to considerdifferent perceptions of stakeholders (Reed et al., 2007;

    explored possible contributions of alternative forest man-agement scenarios to regional sustainability. The studyhad an isolated view of the forestry sector, while in thisstudy the focus was on impacts of different SLCP imple-mentation options (conversion of cropland into forests) onregional sustainability covering all land use sectors. Findingsfrom Knig et al. (2010) are used to study the regionalimpacts of the SLCP implementation as well as possible con-sequences of alternative forest management. Subsequently,results from both assessments are discussed in a complemen-tary way. The aim of this study therefore was to conducta comprehensive ex-ante impact assessment of the SLCPcovering the economic, social and environmental dimensionsof sustainability. The results of the Framework for Participa-tory Impact Assessment (FoPIA) were evaluated underconsideration of the available scientic literature on theSLCP reviewed.


    Study Area

    The case study region of Guyuan is located in the centreof the Loess Plateau in the southern part of the Huiautonomous region of Ningxia (Figure 1). The main regionalproblems are harsh environmental conditions, land degrada-

    he stu

    H. J. KNIG ET AL.Schwilch et al., 2011). A previous study of Knig (2010)

    Figure 1. Location map of tCopyright 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.dy area of Guyuan, China.tion and low economic development (Zhen et al., 2009a;LAND DEGRADATION & DEVELOPMENT (2012)

  • SLCP LAND CONVERSION IMPACTS ON RURAL SUSTAINABILITY IN GUYUAN, CHINAZhu et al., 1986). The climate is semi-arid with cold, drywinters and hot, wet summers. The average annual rainfallis 470mm with regional variability. The terrain is mountain-ous with elevations ranging from 1248 to 2942m a.s.l.The main land use activities are smallholder subsistence

    agriculture and livestock husbandry with an average farmsize of 46mu (15mu=1ha) per family household. In 2009,the rural farm household activities were typically 61 per centon-farm activities, such as cropping (50 per cent), livestockbreeding (11 per cent), off-farm work (37 per cent) and otheractivities (2 per cent). Agriculture is rainfed, and the majorcrops include maize, wheat, potato, millet, oilseeds and severallegume species (Zhen et al., 2009a). The livestock includessheep, goats, beef cattle, dairy cows, pigs and poultry. Theremaining natural vegetation includes wild grassland andshrubs that grow mainly on the steep slopes where humanactivities are restricted (Chen et al., 2001).Poor economic development is considered a major con-

    straint for development in Guyuan where there is a lowGDP per capita of RMB8470, which was only 29 per centof the Chinese national average of RMB 29 992 in 2010.The average income per rural households was RMB3477,which is 59 per cent of the national average of RMB5919in 2010. With the SLCP, Guyuan follows a model centredon environmental priority where economic developmentcomes only as a second goal (Zhen et al., 2009b).



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