Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2010, Vol. 1 ›› Issue (4): 300-.DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-764x.2010.04.002

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Multifunctional Forest Management in Guyuan: Potentials, Challenges and Trade-offs

Hannes Jochen KOENIG   

  1. Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Eberswalder Straβe 84, D-15374 Müncheberg, Germany
  • Received:2010-10-26 Revised:2010-11-20 Online:2010-12-30 Published:2010-12-30
  • Contact: Hannes Jochen KOENIG

Abstract: Soil erosion, population growth and water scarcity are considered critical to rural sustainable development in remote Guyuan, Western China. The Chinese government has responded to these threats by implementing the “Sloping Land Conversion Program” (SLCP) in late 1999 and has completed the first phase by 2003. Besides having the major goal of ecological restoration, the program intended as well to reduce rural poverty and to promote economic development. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of three alternative forest management types and to analyze potential contributions and drawbacks to sustainable development. For the impact assessment the “Framework for Participatory Impact Assessment” (FoPIA) was applied to (i) develop alternative land use scenarios, (ii) specify the regional sustainability context, and (iii) conduct the impact assessment. Scenarios were developed for “ecological restoration forests”, “fruit plantations (agroforestry)” and “bioenergy forests”. As a first result of local stakeholder consultation a set of nine forest functions were developed that should represent key sustainability issues in Guyuan, including “provision of work”, “quality of life”, “access to forests” (social); “income from timber production”, “income from non-timber forest products”, “income from forest related industry and services” (economic); and “provision of biotic resources”, “provision of abiotic resources”, “maintenance of ecosystem processes” (environmental). For the impact assessment, an interdisciplinary expert workshop was used to judge possible impacts of scenarios on forest functions and to explore possible trade-offs among regional sustainability targets. Ecological forests were expected to achieve the primary goal of ecological restoration while having less positive effects on social and economic functions. Fruit plantations were expected to largely contribute to socio-economic function with little positive effects on selected environmental aspects. Bioenergy forests were expected to equally contribute to social, economic and environmental functions. Nevertheless, it was stressed by some experts that regional experiences and good understanding of this management type is still missing. Based on expert judgments and arguments possible strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were discussed for each forest scenario. It was concluded that the selection of tree species within ecological forest should be reconsidered and that more attention should be paid to native species, mainly for water saving purposes. Fruit plantations, if well managed, were considered to mainly contribute to socio-economic benefits. Bioenergy forests were seen to have high potentials to provide environmental friendly and market independed energy source, mainly at household or at village level.

Key words: forest management, SLCP, forest functions, participatory impact assessment, FoPIA