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Forests 2014, 5(2), 214-233; doi:10.3390/f5020214

Local Dynamics Driving Forest Transition: Insights from Upland Villages in Southwest China

1,2,* , 3,4
and
2
1
College of Economics and Management, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming 650201, China
2
World Agroforestry Centre, ICRAF China & East Asia Node, Heilongtan, Kunming 650204, China
3
Institute of Plant Production and Agroecology in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart 70599, Germany
4
Centre for Mountain Ecosystem Studies, Kunming Institute of Botany, Kunming 650201, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 October 2013 / Revised: 13 December 2013 / Accepted: 16 January 2014 / Published: 23 January 2014
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Abstract

China has experienced extensive forest transition, from net deforestation to net forestation. Existing theories have highlighted economic growth, the intensification of agriculture and forest scarcity as the pathways of this transition, and studies, in particular from China, have also highlighted the contribution of a huge state afforestation program and the improved implementation and enforcement of forest protection policy and law. However, few studies have paid attention to local dynamics to provide a contextualized understanding of how forest transition has taken place at the local level and the significance of local factors in this change. This paper examines forest transition pathways in two villages in China. We consider the historical perspective and compare their local dynamics and variations to reach an understanding of the process of forest recovery at the local level. The results show that state forestry policies, including afforestation policy and tenure reform, arguably contribute to forest increase, while local processes including livelihood change and institutional factors play a key role in driving and shaping forest transition. We argue that there is a need for local-level studies and recommend including local institutions in forest transition analysis, contextualizing the socio-ecological interactions within the broader concept of political economy.
Keywords: forest transition; land use and cover change; afforestation policy; local institutions; China forest transition; land use and cover change; afforestation policy; local institutions; China
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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He, J.; Lang, R.; Xu, J. Local Dynamics Driving Forest Transition: Insights from Upland Villages in Southwest China. Forests 2014, 5, 214-233.

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