Replacing rubber plantations by rain forest in Southwest China—who would gain and how much?
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The cultivation of rubber trees in Xishuangbanna Prefecture in China’s Yunnan Province has triggered an unprecedented economic development but it is also associated with severe environmental problems. Rubber plantations are encroaching the indigenous rain forests at a large scale and a high speed in Xishuangbanna. Many rare plant and animal species are endangered by this development, the natural water management is disturbed, and even the microclimate in this region has changed over the past years. The present study aims at an assessment of the environmental benefits accruing from a reforestation project partly reversing the deforestation that has taken place over the past years. To this end, a Contingent Valuation survey has been conducted in Xishuangbanna to elicit local residents’ willingness to pay for this reforestation program that converts existing rubber plantations back into forest. It is shown that local people’s awareness of the environmental problems caused by increasing rubber plantation is quite high and that in spite of the economic advantages of rubber plantation there is a positive willingness among the local population to contribute financially to a reduction of existing rubber plantations for the sake of a partial restoration of the local rain forest. These results could be used for the practical implementation of a Payments for Eco-System Services system for reforestation in Xishuangbanna.
KeywordsContingent valuation Rubber plantation Reforestation Environmental valuation Ecosystem services Southwest China
This survey study was conducted within the framework of the Sino-German Research Cooperation “Living Landscapes—China” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education. The authors want to thank three anonymous reviewers for their comments which have helped to improve earlier versions of this paper.
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