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Criterion


Constraining factors


Description


The excessive population growth of human and livestock is a challenge to the limited ecological carrying capacity in desertification-prone areas around the world (Pan et al. 2013) including in China. In the past decade alone, China invested more than US$100 billion into six key forestry programmes. However, returns for the large-scale tree planting investment in marginal areas may be low or take a long time to materialize. Another shortcoming is related to lack of interest from farmers after the trees have been planted, and lack of knowledge in forest management. Less supervision from local governmental offices and the size of subsidy levels were issues that limited the policy impact effect. Overall, the lower subsidies did not offer a strong motivation for farmers to participate in the programme despite the large amounts of money invested in ecosystem payment schemes to meet Chinese Government ambitions.


15


Enabling factors A large number of institutional and administrative capacities have underpinned success to date. Since 1997, the SFA has established several institutions dealing with desertification, including the National Bureau to Combat Desertification, the National Desertification Monitoring Centre, a National Training Centre for Combating Desertification, and a National Research and Development Centre for Combating Desertification – all to conduct research and implement policy programmes on desertification issues. Moreover, in June 2009, the Institute of Desertification was established by the Chinese Forest Academy, which is also under the SFA. The government strongly supports desertification mitigation programmes by allocating significant funding (US$4 billion total during the initial 28 years). Several compensatory measures to increase vegetation have been implemented, including cash incentives to farmers willing to plant trees and shrubs.


Cost effectiveness


“For the period from 2002 to 2006 the Three North Shelterbelt Forest Project has used 4,147 million yuan (US$545.6 million) of investment, created 2,840 million yuan (US$373.7 million) of ecological benefits, and 8,060 million yuan (US$1,060.5 million) of economic benefits.” Direct costs of desertification are estimated at 64.2 billion yuan (Chinese Yuan Renminbi - CNY) annually (US$7.7 billion), while indirect costs of desertification are estimated at 288.9 billion yuan annually. Finally, the analysis shows that the costs of the rehabilitation of the lands degraded due to land use cover change are significantly lower than the costs of inaction, with returns of up to 4.7 times for every yuan invested over a 30-year period.


Equity


Desertification control has mostly depended on the administration, specialists and other social elites for decision-making, while the local people are often inactively participating in the decision- making process. For instance, the local communities did not have the right to decide on control measures of the ‘Sand Control Law’. In order to enhance land restoration of degraded areas, the government allocated land-use rights to local people for up to 70 years. This type of policy improved the land tenure issues and increased interest from local people. Government resettled farmers and herders on degraded lands and provided subsidies and compensations for those who participated in restoration activities. However, there is no systematic compensation method or proper regulations in land desertification control to support local people.


Co-benefits


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, are organic compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen and can be dangerous to human health with cancer being the primary health risk from exposure to them. The implementation of the Three North Shelterbelt Forest Project resulted in atmospheric removal and long-term reduction trends of two polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon species, phenanthrene and benzo[a]pyrene. A series of studies on the health effects of dust storms in north-western China show that dust events were significantly associated with respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalization (after adjusted the effect of SO2


it turned to be deadly. Based on published research (e.g. Tan and Li 2015; Wang et al. 2012), the frequency and severity of dust storm events have diminished over time thanks to the interventions of the GGW project that, according to the statistical data from National Meteorological Information Center, China (e.g. Tan and Li 2015), has positively affected the health status of the people living in the region and beyond.


and/or NO2


The other social-economic benefit of the project has been the development of tourism and increasing employment opportunities for local people.


Transboundary issues


From the global assessment report on sand and dust storms, it is clear that sand and dust storms from the desert areas of China and Mongolia affect the air and ocean quality as far as Korea, Japan, Pacific Islands and North America (e.g. https://youtu.be/jGPuCeEILeM). Furthermore, there is a Regional Master Plan for the Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia, a project involving the governments of China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea. The goal is to mitigate health effects deriving from dust storms from this region outside north-west China (e.g. in Japan, Korea), emphasizing the long-range transport and the transboundary nature of these events and the need for regional cooperation. Desert dust also plays an integral role in the Earth system affecting air chemistry and climate processes, soil characteristics and water quality, nutrient dynamics and biogeochemical cycling in both oceanic and terrestrial environments.


Possible improvements


Research data from similar ecological areas in the Loess Plateau in China showed that there is competition for water resources between the afforested vegetation and the human water needs. Hence government decisions and policies to combat desertification must be compliant with ecological and people’s socioeconomic demands without disturbing the water balance in these areas. This could be achieved by protecting local vegetation in desertification-prone lands and planting suitable vegetation according to local conditions or in specific cases leaving the land to recover without human disturbance. While considering multiple ecosystem services and their potential consequences rather than focusing only on a few services and ignoring other influences, GGW could be a role model for other regions with similar natural conditions. However, the reduction of production of agricultural goods coming along with GGW implementation triggers an increase in agricultural production elsewhere, either within the country or abroad. Respective spillover effects on potential land degradation associated with intensified agricultural production have not been analysed adequately to date.


382 Policies, Goals, Objectives and Environmental Governance: An assessment of their effectiveness


Goudie and Middleton


(2006); Abiodun et al. (2012); UNEP, World Meteorological Organization [WMO] and UNCCD (2016)


Xiaoming et al. (2016)


Ahrends et al. (2017)


References


Ahrends et al. (2017) ; Xu, Song and Song (2017)


Jiang (2016)


Deng and Li (2016);


Jiang (2016)


(Jiang 2016)


Aunan and Pan (2004);


Li and Huntsinger (2011); Huang et al. (2016)


). Events like this are also recorded in India, where in May 2018


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