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Tenure and management of non-state forests in China since 1950: A historical review

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Liu Dachang

This journal article examines changes in policies for the tenure and management of non-state forests in China since the 1950s and their effect on the way farmers manage forest resources. Private ownership and household management practices dominant in 1950-55 gave way to collectivization from 1956 until the early 1980s, when households were again given more control over tree and forest resources. The author’s findings included: The insecurity of land and tree tenure and the uncertain tenure environments affected incentives to plant new trees and manage existing forest resources sustainably; The underlying cause of forest degradation is the lack of confidence in property rights that resulted from the frequent and sometimes radical changes in policy in the past; When lease were introduced for household use rights, tree planting appeared to have increased; Shareholdings systems organized by villagers voluntarily may be the only effective institutions for the establishment and management of common forests. The author recommends that the government refocus its attention on facilitating farmer-initiated forms of collective action rather than trying to promote shareholding systems. He further argues that villagers should be vested with full rights to their trees and thus given a genuine stake in their management.

Author(s): Liu Dachang

Publication Date: 2001

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