Farmers in Gansu Province showing interviewers their Forest Rights Certificates
A farmer answering questions attentively, with his Hukou and Forest Rights Certificates showed to the interviewer
The interviewer from the same ethnic group doing the survey with minority languages in Yunnan Province
Three respondents in Yunnan were invited to village center for the survey because they lived too far away
Respondents of Sichuan province completed the survey and got their payment
Respondents and interviewers talking in the Tibetan area of Sichuan
Survey team of Fujian province and local village leaders in front of a village center
Survey in a Yunnan household
Yunnan Farmer answering questions
A Yunnan farmer completing the survey
Yunnan Farmer answering the questions
Interviewing outside under a  big tree in Yunnan
Interviewer in a big family in Sichuan
Interviewers walking in the Tibetan area village
The wall painting in a Yunnan Village
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EfD in unprecedented large-scale study of China’s forest tenure reform

EfD China has conducted a field study involving over 1,500 households and hundreds of stakeholders to evaluate the effects of the Collective Forest Tenure Reform. The purpose is to provide China’s central government with information on the policy impact and suggestions for further reforms.

China has carried out a nationwide tenure reform in collective forest areas starting in 2003. The purpose of this reform is to clarify the ownership of forestland, issue forest rights certificates to farmers, and encourage diversified forest management. The ultimate goal is forest sustainability.

Wants comprehensive assessment

After almost twenty years, the central government wants to understand the long-term policy impacts, collect opinions and suggestions from local people, and continue the reform progress for China’s forestry development. The National Forestry and Grassland Administration decided to make a comprehensive assessment and to submit a detailed report to the central government. Thus, EfD China, Environmental Economics Program in China (EEPC), was invited to participate in the work and contracted for the basic data collection.

From late August to early September, the EEPC conducted a round of large-scale field surveys on the Collective Forest Tenure Reform. This survey covered ten representative provinces in the southeast (Fujian, Jiangxi, Zhejiang), the southwest (Yunnan and Sichuan), the northwest (Gansu), the north (Liaoning and Shandong), and central China (Anhui and Hunan).

Geographical distribution of ten provinces of the third-round field survey

Picture 1:Geographical distribution of ten provinces of the third-round field survey


Timespan of 20 years

This is a follow-up survey based on two previous rounds of field surveys, which is also conducted by EEPC in 2007-2008 and 2011-2013. Therefore, with the existing data, the data collected this time will form a panel data set of four or five periods and spanning up to twenty years. This is unprecedented in the field of forestry economics study in China.

130 qualified interviewers

“Due to the limited time available for the field trips and the difficulty of travel during the pandemic, we coordinated and closely cooperated with one local agricultural and forestry colleges in each of the ten provinces. This may be the largest forestry survey ever completed in China in the shortest time”, says Jintao XU (Director of EfD China).

After a thorough online training session, there were 130 undergraduate and graduate students in total who become qualified interviewers. Equipped with a Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) system, they went to randomly selected villages with various natural scenery and social conventions, and the survey was completed successfully and fruitful. The questionnaire covers the respondents’ social, economic and demographic characteristics, production and consumption, land-use practices and land rights, forest management activities and uses rights, asset changes, social capital and relationships, as well as information on participation in the tenure reform.

Report will be sent to central government

Eventually, 1544 households were successfully tracked. Meanwhile, 164 village leaders, 129 county leaders, 32 forestry bureaus, and 254 forestry entities were investigated.

Based on the data collected from this survey, EfD China is currently writing the report. This report will be delivered to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, and then become a part of central policy documents.


By: Hang YIN

Sustainable Development Goals
Story | 24 September 2021