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Stabilizing Forests and Communities: Accommodative Buffering within China's Collective Forest Tenure Reform

  • John Aloysius Zinda (a1) and Zhiming Zhang (a2)

Abstract

China's recent collective forest tenure reform is intended to clarify and certify forest rights, and thereby promote market circulation of forestland, encourage forestry production and safeguard conservation. Central policy statements prioritize parcelling tenure among households to promote efficient management. This study examines how participants experienced the programme in communities in north-west Yunnan. In the study area, rather than individualizing tenure, forestry agencies compelled communities to re-collectivize forests. Nonetheless, residents persist in using household forests despite restrictions. Local officials tacitly sanction these activities. In mountain hinterlands, forest tenure reform has been focused on “stabilizing” forests and communities. Rather than forcibly impose tenure designs, authorities perform what we call accommodative buffering. A set of formal institutions, rules and mappings enables projects like forest ecological compensation payments to go forward. However, state agents at local and higher levels tolerate informal practices that contain the trouble that poorly fitted formal institutions might cause. While potentially more resilient than by-the-book enforcement, these arrangements could leave residents vulnerable to political shifts that require a demonstration of policy adherence.

中国近几年实施的集体林权改革目的是理清森林所有权同时实行所有权的认证,并以此而推动林地的市场化流转,鼓励林业生产,并且促进森林保育。中央政策文件及发言重点强调要通过将林权分给农户来实现有效的森林管理。本调查分析了云南省西北部地区村民实行林权改革的经验。在调研的地区,当地林业部门没有把林权分到户,而是令村民小组进行林地的重新集体化。不过,社区的村民还继续按照从前的家庭分配模式使用森林。这些作法得到了当地官员的默认。在山区腹地,林权改革的重点在于维持森林及社区的稳定。当地政府部门不采取强制性的措施来推行某种林权模式,而应用我们所称的“容纳性缓冲”方法。依据一套正式的制度、规则、和制图方法来推进森林生态效益补偿等项目的开展, 同时,当地和上级政府机关容忍了一套非正式作法以缓解正式制度所可能带来的摩擦。这种作法,虽然比严格执行正式制度更具韧性,但是,如果出现政策变化,要求实践必须展示政策本意的时候,也有可能令村民陷入困境。

Copyright

Corresponding author

Email: jaz65@cornell.edu (corresponding author).

References

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Stabilizing Forests and Communities: Accommodative Buffering within China's Collective Forest Tenure Reform

  • John Aloysius Zinda (a1) and Zhiming Zhang (a2)

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