Using a pattern metric-based analysis to examine the success of forest policy implementation in Southwest China
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The National Forest Protection Program (NFPP) and sloping land conversion program (SLCP) were introduced in 1998 and 2000, respectively, with the shared goal of increasing forest cover and decreasing forest loss across China. The NFPP banned commercial logging and funded tree planting efforts while the SLCP subsidized tree planting on steeply sloping and otherwise disused lands.
This study quantifies the patterns of forest loss and gain before and during policy implementation to gauge implementation effectiveness. By measuring patterns associated with spatially explicit processes linking land managers and forest resources, this study improves upon overly simplified assessments of implementation effectiveness that only consider the area of forest cover change.
The shifting patterns of short- and long-term forest cover change in Diqing Prefecture, southwest China, are measured between 1990 and 2009. Eleven pattern metrics quantify the area, topography, and landscape feature proximity of forest loss or gain patches based on Landsat imagery-derived forest cover changes.
Trends generally conformed to those expected under successful policy implementation: the proportion and fragmentation of forest loss declined, loss patches were found closer to villages and at lower elevations, and forest gain increased in proportion and median patch area. However, median loss patch area increased, suggesting greater localized harvesting intensity, and loss sites occupied steeper slopes contrary to SLCP goals.
Forest cover change patterns did not wholly align with those expected of successful implementation but rather deviated due to the influences of regional tourism development and village- and household-level forest resource scarcity.
KeywordsPattern analysis Forest policy NFPP SLCP Forest cover change Temporal resolution Yunnan China
The fieldwork for this article was completed by the first author in 2008–2010 and supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DGE-0549369 IGERT: Training Program on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Southwest China at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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