Assessing socio-economic impacts of the Three North Shelterbelt (Green Great Wall) Program in China

This project will provide a systematic assessment over the impacts of the Three North Shelterbelt Program (TNSP) on the economic development in northern China. We will be doing so by examining differentiated impacts of the program elements, such as forest types and project implementation schemes, on i.e. per capita income in the poor areas, economic structure, and employment structure.

The Three North Shelterbelt Program is the largest ecological restoration program in China, the world and human history. The program is set to last for 73 years (1977-2050), and it spans the whole of northern China, with well over 500 counties under program influence, one fifth of the total counties in China. Its ecological consequences, together with the appropriateness of technologies adopted, have been topics of heated scientific controversies ever since its commencement. Its social and economic impacts, however, have never been systematically examined.

The program areas are ecologically the most fragile and economically the poorest. Anti-desertification, controlling of water and soil erosion, as well as poverty alleviation have always been the common objectives of the program. By conducting systematic assessment of the program, we will be able to contribute to policy improvement in cost saving and higher effectiveness of program intervention in local economies.

The project will use county level panel data of 515 counties, including the program roll-out information for the last forty years, yearly data on socio-economic changes, and natural conditions such as weather and geographic information.  Spatial econometric analysis methods will be applied to estimate program impacts. In addition, remote sensing information will be used to provide alternative measures of program roll-out and ecological performance of the program. The findings will be used to inform policy makers of potential areas of improvement in policy design, implementation and management scheme changes. They will also shed lights on directions of general policy improvement in all kinds of nationally funded ecological programs.

Project status
Financed by
Environment for Development initiative
Project | 23 February 2017