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Ecol Evol. 2018 Mar 14;8(8):3842-3850. doi: 10.1002/ece3.3844. eCollection 2018 Apr.

Livelihood changes matter for the sustainability of ecological restoration: A case analysis of the Grain for Green Program in China's largest Giant Panda Reserve.

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College of Resource, Environment and Tourism Capital Normal University Beijing China.


Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are expected to promote ecological restoration while simultaneously improving human livelihoods. As an adaptive management tool, PES programs should be dynamic and adjusted according to changing natural and socio-economic contexts. Taking the implementation of China's famous ecological restoration policy known as the Grain for Green Program (GGP) in the Wolong National Nature Reserve as an example, we analyzed changes in the livelihood capitals and strategies of local households that had participated in the GGP over a 10-year period and discussed the implications of these changes for the next stage of the program's implementation. Data were collected from a locally implemented questionnaire in both 2004 and 2015. We found that local livelihood capitals and strategies had experienced dramatic change over the 10-year period. Natural capital decreased and was unequally distributed among local respondents. In terms of financial capital, despite that agricultural and nonagricultural income increased, compensation from the GGP decreased and did not keep pace with increasing cost of cropland, household income and more broadly national economic development and inflation. Regarding human capital, the local labor force is facing huge transformational pressures. In particular, there is a increase in the supply of local labor force aged between 21 and 40 and the implications of this for the future of the GGP should be given more attention. The findings have demonstrated that: Some changes in participants' livelihood were expected by the GGP but were not evenly distributed among the participants; and PES programs are embedded in changing and multi-dimensional socio-economic contexts, and so their design and implementation must be coordinated with other related policies if they are to achieve long-term success.


Grain for Green Program; cropland conversion; ecological compensation; livelihood changes; payment for ecosystem services

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