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Public perception of an ecological rehabilitation project in inland river basins in northern China: Success or failure

Public perception of an ecological rehabilitation project in inland river basins in northern China: Success or failure

Environmental Research 139: 20-30

The need for environmental protection challenges societies to deal with difficult problems because strategies designed by scientists to protect the environment often create negative effects on impoverished local residents. We investigated the effects of China's national and regional policies related to environmental protection and rehabilitation projects in inland river basins, by studying the effect of projects in the Heihe and Shiyang river basins, in northwest China. Interviews and surveys were conducted at 30 sites in the lower reaches of these two arid basins, an area that has experienced severe ecological degradation. The survey results show the ecological rehabilitation projects adversely affected the livelihoods of 70.35% of foresters, 64.89% of farmers and 62.24% of herders in the Minqing region in the lower Shiyang River Basin; also, the projects negatively affected 51.9% of residents in the Ejin Qi in the lower Heihe River Basin. This caused 16.33% of foresters, 39.90% of farmers and 45.32% of herders in the Minqing region to not support the project and 37.5% of residents in the Ejin Qi region said they will deforest and graze again after the project ends. The negative impacts of the policies connected to the projects cause these attitudes. The projects prohibit felling and grazing and require residents to give up groundwater mining; this results in a great amount of uncompensated economic loss to them. Extensive survey data document the concerns of local residents, concerns that are supported by the calculation of actual incomes. In addition, the surveys results show poorer interviewees believe the projects greatly affected their livelihoods. While citizens in this region support environment protection work, the poor require considerable assistance if one expects them to support this type of work. Governmental assistance can greatly improve their living conditions, and hence encourage them to participate in and support the implementation of the projects within and outside the districts where they live.

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Accession: 058661716

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PMID: 25686489

DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.12.030

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