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Economic Development, Rural livelihoods, and Ecological Restoration: Evidence from China

Abstract

This article uses a case study in Southeast China to demonstrate how the substantial changes in rural livelihoods have been driven by a combination of “pull” forces from external economic development, and “push” forces from local areas, leading to a shift in rural household economic activities: household outmigration and de-population of the countryside, changes in energy consumption, and most importantly, changes in land uses and eventually, ecological restoration. Such dramatic changes are becoming common across the Chinese countryside. It is pointed out that economic development has generally caused a deterioration of the environment at least at the early period of economic growth, but the positive impacts, especially in some ecosystem in rural areas, have become more apparent.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 40901298) and the Education Department Foundation of Fujian Province (Grant no. JA09058). We are grateful to Zhu Yu from Fujian Normal University for his valuable advice in questionnaire design, and to Huang Min-sheng, Chen Zhi-biao, and Wang Bin from Fujian Normal University, Tong Lian-jun and Zhang Chun-li from Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, CAS, for their valuable suggestions. We also thank local government departments in Changting County for providing valuable data and help in field work. The comments from two anonymous reviewers are also greatly appreciated.

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Correspondence to Yusheng Yang.

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Wang, C., Yang, Y. & Zhang, Y. Economic Development, Rural livelihoods, and Ecological Restoration: Evidence from China. AMBIO 40, 78–87 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-010-0093-5

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Keywords

  • Ecological restoration
  • Household livelihoods
  • Economic development
  • Changting County