The eco-environmental policies that support inclusive development
- poverty reduction approaches
- endogenous poverty alleviation
- vulnerable groups
- targeted poverty alleviation components
- supporting policies
The eco-environmental policies that support inclusive development
Title : The eco-environmental policies that support inclusive development
Commencement Date : Tue Mar 06 2018--
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Abstract Summary :
Poverty is Ihe biggest long-standing challenge faced by countries all over the world in the process of social and economic development. Eliminating poverty, promoting development and realizing common prosperity has been the ideal of human beings since ancient times, and also an important issue that needs to be solved urgently by all countries today.
China is a developing country with the largest population in the world. Great effort has been made in solving the poverty problem for a long time and tremendous results have been achieved, including the realization of the UN Millennium Development Goal on halving the population in poverty and outstanding contributions to the cause of the worldwide poverty reduction. However, China is still in the primary stage of socialism. The socio-economic development level is still low while the regional development imbalance is significant, and deep contradictions that restrict the development of poor areas still exist. The following are the main problems faced by China. Firstly, the target group of poverty alleviation is huge. According to the 2011 rural poverty alleviation standard, the target population is 122 million, which accounts for 12.77% of the rural registered population (955 million). It is an absolutely arduous task to lift such a large population out of poverty. Secondly, the “relative poverty” problem is significant. Since the 1990s, the wealth gap between the rich and poor has been widening gradually in China. The Gini coefficient has exceeded the international warning line of 0. 4. In particular, the income gap between urban and rural residents is striking. In 2011, the per capita disposable income of urban residents (RMB 21, 810) was 3. 13 times that of rural residents (RMB 6, 977). Thirdly, the population living on the edge of poverty makes up a large proportion and the rate of falling back into poverty is still high. According to monitoring, 50. 5% of the poor population is in danger of “falling back into poverty”. Major transitions of people in and out of poverty are quite common. Fourthly, the type of population in poverty has changed, increasing the difficulty of poverty elimination. China’s current poor population is mainly distributed in areas like the mountainous regions of Southwest China (lack of soil), loess plateau in Northeast China (land degradation and severe water shortage), impoverished mountainous areas in Shaan Xi and Sichuan provinces (little arable land, poor transportation, serious water losses and soil erosion) and the Qinghai - Tibet plateau area (insufficient temperature). The hostile environment and the backward infrastructure in these areas became the key restriction factors in shaking off poverty and getting rich. We could say that the poverty alleviation in China has reached a more difficult and crucial stage. With resources and environment constraints, on the one hand, we have to ensure that after the raising of living standards the poor population will continue to decrease, and on the other hand, we have to make sure that people on the verge of poverty can get rich.
1. Eco-frail area- the core bastion of poverty relief in China
From an ecological point of view, an eco-frail area refers to the juncture between two different geographical types. In these areas, the ecological system structure is not stable, the capacity for resisting turbulence is comparatively weak, and the carrying capacity is low and thus could be easily destroyed. These areas are the key protection targets. This article refers to the areas that face a serious decline of land productivity caused by climate change and human activity, thus resulting in the severe economic recession (Chen Jiansheng, 2008). The eco-frail areas in China are mainly distributed in the northern arid-semi-arid area, southern hilly area, southwest hilly area, Qinghai - Tibet plateau area and parts of the eastern coastal area (Ministry of Environmental Protection, 2008). Highly coincident with the extremely poor areas, the eco-frail areas are the focal point of the poverty alleviation work. In the ecologically-frail areas, frequent natural disasters and low resistance capacity and carrying capacity for economic growth and social development increase the difficulty of poverty reduction.
Poverty commonly occurs in the eco-frail areas
From 1949, the founding year of the People’s Republic of China, to the early stage of reform and opening up, poverty was a common phenomenon in China. Promoted by a series of measures including the “household contract responsibility system”, the Chinese rural economy achieved rapid development and the poverty-stricken population was greatly reduced. However, some parts are still not able to shake off poverty, even to maintain basic living needs. Along with the decrease of the population in poverty, the geographical features of poverty distribution are getting more distinct, and the poverty problem of the eco-frail areas arouses wide concern. According to research carried out in the late 1990s, within the counties classified as eco-frail areas, about 75.92% were considered poverty-stricken counties; within the land classified as eco-frail areas, about 43. 33% was located in poverty-stricken counties; and of the population classified as being in eco-frail areas, about 75. 86% lived in poverty-stricken counties (Li Zhou, 1994). This proves that the poverty problem has a high correlation with the fragile environment, and the poverty-stricken population is comparatively concentrated.
In recent years, along with the in-depth reform of rural areas and enhanced efforts put into poverty alleviation, the geographical features of the poverty-stricken population have increasingly emerged, concentrating in the mountainous area of western China, desert region, alpine region, loess plateau, regions of high incidence of endemic diseases and reservoir areas. According to the monitoring data of the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2009, 65. 9% of the impoverished population was distributed in the western part of China; the poverty rates were 0.5%, 3.4% and 8.3% respectively in the eastern part, middle part and western part of China. There were high poverty rates in 7 western provinces including Guizhou, Yunnan, Tibet, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Apparently, these are the so-called eco-frail areas, whose common characteristics are: remote areas, lack of good infrastructure, unbalanced ecosystem, low economic growth, backward educational level, shortage of drinking water and harsh living conditions.
The difficulty of poverty relief has increased in eco-frail areas
Generally speaking, the effect of economic growth on poverty reduction coincides with the pattern of marginal effects. That is, when the absolute poverty rate decreases to a certain low level, the impact on poverty reduction produced by economic growth will decline gradually. Without adjustment of policies or measures, the pace of poverty reduction will slow down distinctly, and the phenomenon of “falling back into poverty” will occur widely. Therefore, in spite of the remarkable achievements in poverty alleviation in the past decades, China’s poverty reduction has reached a bottleneck at present. Especially in the eco-frail areas, the contradiction between people’s livelihoods and environmental protection is acute, and the objectives of poverty reduction and ecological protection are hard to harmonize. In addition, poverty reduction aimed at increasing income will bring more pressure to resources and the environment, which may thus exacerbate the poverty of eco-frail areas. Poverty reduction has to harmonize with the objective of improving the environment, which is the fundamental reason for the increased difficulties of poverty reduction in eco-frail areas.
The poverty-re lief achievements in the eco-frail areas are difficult to consolidate
“Falling back into poverty” is a phenomenon referring to those who had moved above the poverty criteria going back into poverty. In 2003, the absolute poverty-stricken population had increased by 800, 000, which triggered a query into poverty alleviation work, and also drew public attention to the problem of falling back into poverty. Actually, falling back into poverty is a common reality in the process of solving the poverty problem, especially for poverty-stricken areas, since the poor population has relatively low development capacity and weak development basis; thus external factors like natural disasters, environmental changes or market risks can easily lead to harm and losses (Yan Tingwu, 2005).
Natural disasters are the main reason for falling back into poverty while eco-frail areas are areas with high incidence of natural disasters. Agriculture including animal husbandry is the leading industry in poverty-stricken areas, and also is the sector that has high dependency on natural conditions and can easily suffer from natural disasters, thus leading to economic loss. China is one of the countries in the world which is most seriously affected by natural disasters. The western part of China has a high incidence of natural disasters with low anti-disaster capacity. It is difficult to consolidate the poverty reduction achievements. Moreover, death caused by natural disasters is inevitable, and many of the disaster-affected families fall into absolute poverty because of injury, illness or labor decrease. These lead to further difficulty for poverty reduction work. The analysis conducted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs on nationwide natural disasters in 2011 indicated that various kinds of natural disasters affected 430 million people and caused 1, 126 deaths and RMB 309. 64 billion of direct economic loss; above 80% of the disaster-affected people were distributed in “early-liberated, minority nationality, border and poor” areas. The analysis also points out that the disaster status was less severe in 2011; therefore we can see how strongly natural disasters affect poverty reduction work, and this also shows the high difficulty of consolidation of the poverty alleviation achievements. There is a mutual cause-effect relation between poverty and ecological degradation in eco-frail areas
In the Conference on Environment and Development of the United Nations in 1992, all the representatives agreed that the third world’s poverty is the basic reason for the ecological degradation in many of the developing countries, while the environmental degradation leads to further poverty. Such a vicious cycle makes environmental issues difficult for developing countries (Wangya, 1993). Ln fact, the correlation between poverty and ecological degradation is far from this simple. The determinant is the bearing capacity of regional resources and environment in relation to the population, economic and social development. In other words, when the regional resources and environment have a low bearing capacity in relation to population, economic and social development, poverty alleviation and ecology will interact as both cause and effect.
For eco-frail areas, the cause-effect correlation is very distinct. In the northern arid and semi-arid areas in China, for example, over-farming and overgrazing caused ecological damage, with the result that natural disasters occurred and further aggravated poverty. If the lifestyle of being highly dependent on natural resources does not change, the poverty reduction in eco-frail areas will bring more pressure on the environment and result in a more fragile environment. To break this vicious cycle, one has to start with improving the regional environment, enhance the regional resources’ bearing capacity, and enable the population of poor areas to benefit from ecological management.
2. Ecological construction and poverty reduction- effect and problems of China
From the end of the last century, China strengthened the efforts in ecological restoration and environment protection. A series of ecological projects has been initiated in the areas of ecological barriers, river resources and frail environments focusing on the ecological problems which severely affect sustainable economic development such as water losses and soil erosion and degradation. At present, most of the ecological construction projects have completed a construction cycle, and resulted in distinct ecological, social and economic benefits. At the same time, lots of the problems still exist. Hereafter we only summarize and analyze these problems through the viewpoint of ecological improvement and poverty reduction.
The project of returning farmland to forest
The returning farmland to forest project was started in 2002, and it is an ecological repair project with the most intensive investment, broadest range, strongest policy nature, and highest public participation in China or even in the world. It aims lo solve the problems of water losses and soil erosion in key regions. The project implementation areas include: important water resource protection areas, water-soil losses areas in the loess plateau, stony desertification areas and key windy-sandy regions. According to the relevant regulation, the project mainly aims to build ecological forests with the percentage not less than 80% . The central government provides the subsidy to farmers in grain and ready money, and the subsidized period is: 2 years for returning the grassland, 5 years for returning the economic forest, or 8 years for returning the ecological forest. The subsidized standard is as below: for the Yellow River basin area, 100 kg of grain plus RMB 20 living subsidy/Mu every year for returning the cultivated land, and also RMB 50/Mu for seedlings and forestation. ln 2004, the central government decided to give a cash subsidy to land-returning farmers instead of grain according to the standard of RMB 1.4/kg of grain. In 2007, the central government decided to continually subsidize the land-returning farmers with the criteria of: RMB 105/Mu for the Yangtze River basin and southern area, RMB 70/Mu for the Yellow River basin and northern area, and the continuing living subsidy of RMB 20/Mu. The subsidized period is: 8 years for ecological forests, 5 years for economic forests, and 2 years for grassland. As of the end of 2011, the accumulated amount of farmland returned was 427 million Mu, and the total investment from the central government had reached more than RMB 450 billion. 3. 2 million households and 1240 million farmers have benefited. The recent tasks of the project are to consolidate the existing land-returning results, and to build man- made forests and seal off mountainous areas to facilitate the afforestation.
Since the project was put into practice in 2011, the project has made great progress, accelerated the afforestation process, increased the vegetation cover and decreased the soil and water losses and windy - sandy damage. The subsidy policy enjoys the public’s full support, the subsidized grain and cash has become an important part of the land-returning farmers’ income, and their lives have been greatly improved. However, consolidation of the project achievements is still facing a number of problems. One is that the subsidy’s strength is decreasing gradually compared with the other kinds of subsidy such as direct food subsidy, agricultural materials subsidy and certified seed subsidy, etc., and the subsidy contracts are about to expire. Secondly, the profit for returning the land is quite low, and land-returning farmers lack enthusiasm for investment and working, which means it is hard to benefit from the ecological improvement. In regard to these 2 aspects, to continually put the project to good use in improving the environment, alleviating poverty and promoting social development, we have to make sure that farmers can continually benefit from joining the project and this benefit should be greater than that from the other ways of using land.
Project of returning grazing to grassland
In 2003, the Chinese central government started the project of returning grazing to grassland in 8 provinces, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Group. The aim is to offer a certain amount of economic complement, to restore the grassland vegetation, improve the grassland ecology, and promote the grassland ecology. Development is coordinated with animal husbandry by taking measures including fence construction, after-culture improvement, prohibition grazing, rest grazing, rotation grazing, etc.
The returning grazing to grassland project is implemented by a combination of central and local governments and households. The central government provides the necessary feeding grain complement and cash complement for fence construction; those responsible for rotation grazing will not enjoy the feed grain subsidy; and the construction funds for grassland fences are in accordance with the grassland type and range. The desertified grassland in the west of Inner Mogolia, Gansu and Qinghai, the degradation grassland in the east of Inner Mongolia, and the degradation grassland in the north of Xinjiang will be subsidized with 5. 5 kg of feed grain/Mu for prohibiting grazing for a whole year. The seasonal rest grazing takes 3 months with 1. 37 kg feed grain subsidy/Mu. The grassland fencing construction is subsidized by RMB 16.6/Mu, which is provided in the proportion of 70% from the central government and 30% from local governments and individuals. For the river grassland in the east of the Tibet - Qinghai plateau, the subsidy is 2. 75 kg of feed grain/Mu from the central government for a whole year of prohibited grazing. Regarding the seasonal rest grazing which lasts every 3 months, the subsidy is 0. 69kg of feed grain/Mu from the central government. The grassland fencing construction is subsidized with RMB 20/Mu, of which 70% is provided by the central found it difficult lo get sustainable support from the farmers.
Wild animal and plant protection and nature reserve construction
The project started in 2001 is a project with long-term prospects and has lots of strategic meaning. It mainly aims to solve the problems of gene preservation, biodiversity protection, natural protection and wetland protection. By means of implementing the “general plan on construction of the national wild animal and plant protection and natural protection area”, the aims are to save 15 kinds of rare and endangered species such as the panda, crested ibis, tiger, golden monkey, Tibetan antelope, Asian elephant, musk deer, etc. ; to save and restore 40 kinds of extremely endangered wild animals and 120 kinds of minimum-population wild animals and their habitat; to strengthen habitat and resource protection; to realize regression for more than 20 kinds of artificially bred animals and more than 20 minimum-population plants; to strengthen scientific research, genetic resource protection; to rescue and breed wild animals, and to enhance, improve and build a bunch of national natural preservation areas, hunting prohibition areas and gene resource areas, to store and develop rare animal and plant species. Eventually a natural protective network will be established, which comprises natural protective areas and important wetland areas featuring wide distribution, rich categories, advanced equipment, efficient management, and important international impact.
By the end of 2010, there were 2035 natural reserves, making up a total area of 124 million hectares, and accounting for 12. 89% of the total territory area. The total investment capital was RMB 5.928 billion, including the national investment of RMB 3.386 billion ( the State Forestry Administration, 2011 ). The implementation of the project has improved rare animal protection, especially for the crested ibis and Chinese alligator, and also improved the breeding facilities, consolidated the rescue and breeding capacity, and promoted the increase of rare animals and plants. In contrast with other projects, this project has only one objective, to protect rare animals and plants as well as their habitats, and people’s livelihoods in the surrounding areas have not been fully considered. In addition, the increase of the rare animals has triggered frequent damage to crops and the livestock, which caused serious discontent of the farmers because of the lack of compensation.
In general, the eco-protection and construction projects have played important roles in improving the environment, as well as balancing poverty reduction and increasing income, and a favorable periodic achievements has been made. But in the long term, if the backward development mode of highly relying on natural resources cannot be changed, these will turn out to be short-term measures to protect and restore the environment, and will hardly be long-term mechanisms for eco-improvement and poverty reduction.
3. Inclusive development: a mode of balancing ecological improvement with poverty reduction
At present, China is caught between ecological restoration and the poverty reduction. On one hand, eco-type poverty affects a major part of the impoverished population in China, and only sustainable ecological improvement can eliminate the poverty. On another hand, after certain periodic achievements, the central government-financed ecological construction projects are severely challenging people’s livelihoods. Without the continual financial support from all levels of government and the rigid restriction of the eco-protection policy, the farmers in the project areas will keep on destroying the environment. Therefore, adjustments have to be made to both ecological management and poverty reduction in eco-fraii areas, which will lead to mutual coordination and mutual promotion and will turn the vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle.
The connotation of inclusive development
Inclusive development is a development mode aiming at eliminating poverty, and was firstly adopted by the international organizations who engaging in reducing poverty such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank; now the concept has been accepted by more and more developing countries. With the deepening recognition of the relation among economic growth, inequality and poverty reduction, some studies show that increased inequality makes it difficult for economic development achievements to benefit the entire population (especially the poor), which is the basic factor that hinders economic growth from achieving poverty reduction. In this context, inclusive development has been initiated as the countermeasure, and it emphasizes the need to establish inclusive regulations, to provide broad opportunities, to eliminate rights poverty and social discrimination, to realize equal opportunities and participation, and to enable the whole population including the poor group to actively participate in economic development and share the development results, thus leading to comprehensive progress for each individual (Long Chaoyang, 2012).
Equal sharing of opportunities and achievements is the core meaning of inclusive development. The word “inclusive” refers to a basic requirement for the process and results of the economic growth and has three levels of meanings. One is to enable economic growth to benefit the entire population, especially the poor group. It is not only an important objective of inclusive development but also a necessary condition for realizing sustainable poverty reduction. Secondly, making sure everyone has equal development opportunities is the basic assurance for inclusive development, and also could arouse enthusiasm of all classes of the society to improve the efficiency of economic growth. Thirdly, enhancement of the individual’s capacity during the process of economic growth is necessary to ensure a sustainable poverty reduction.
Multi-target coordination is the essential requirement of inclusive development
In order to achieve sustainable poverty reduction, inclusive development has to first maintain high-speed economic growth, and at the same time, inequality has to be reduced to realize the sharing of achievements. However, in the real world, it is difficult for economic growth to balance efficiency with justice. Moreover, economic growth is only an essential condition for poverty reduction, and poverty will definitely conflict with the other development goals (such as ecological protection). In this context, “inclusive” involves multi-target coordination, to defuse the conflicts of multiple goals, so that they are achieved in good order, and to complement each other’s advantages. Therefore, inclusive development means realizing sustainable development at the lowest cost on the basis of coordinating multiple targets.
Inclusive development is needed in defusing the conflict between ecological improvement and poverty reduction
Based on the analysis on the effects of Chinese ecological projects and problems we mentioned above, we assume that the residents of project areas cannot sustainably benefit from the ecological improvement. The main reason is that ecological projects cannot continually be developed and the eco- frail areas lack, long-term mechanisms for eco-protection. Further, the backward development mode of highly relying on natural resources is the fundamental reason for the difficulty in consolidating poverty reduction results. Without sustainable external inputs ( such as project investment and poverty reduction funding), ecological construction and poverty reduction will not be carried out in a deep way. This is because there is conflict between ecology improvement and poverty reduction, as well as between natural resources’ protection and utilization; if one cannot effectively coordinate these conflicts, ecological improvement will neither drive the regional economy’s growth, nor promote economic growth in the long term, thus exacerbating poverty.
To defuse the conflicts between the two targets of ecological improvement and poverty reduction it is necessary to proceed from coordinating utilization and protection of resources. To use inclusive development tor reference, this means letting all the residents have equal opportunities in participating in ecological management, and have an equal share of the ecological achievements, to sustainably benefit from the eco“improvement. For those outside the project area, they could also get reasonable compensation for suffering from the ecological improvement, thus promoting regional economic growth, in fact, currently the residents of project areas do not have equal opportunities for participating in project construction, but only receive limited payments for labor such as the land- returning subsidy or forest managing allowance, and their lost opportunity cost has not been sufficiently compensated. Therefore, we should inspect the ecological management and poverty reduction strategy from a new angle, through coordinating their targets, making them supplement each other and getting into a positive circle.
4. Ecological poverty reduction: the inevitable choice for breaking through the bottleneck of poverty reduction in China
China is now implementing a new round of poverty alleviation and development plans, mainly focusing on the poverty caused by ecological problems. The objective of poverty alleviation and development has shifted from securing adequate food and clothing to consolidating the poverty alleviation achievements of former stages, facilitating poverty shake-off, improving the environment, enhancing development capability, and narrowing the development gap. In a sense, the poverty problems in eco-frail areas are exactly ecological problems, and the occurrence and degree of poverty are closely related to environmental problems (Liu Yanmei, 2005). Therefore, poverty reduction in eco-frail areas has to proceed from improving the environment and enhancing the carrying capacity of the environment, to coordinate ecological improvement and poverty reduction, and implement a poverty reduction strategy.
The aim of so-called ecological poverty reduction is to transform the economic development mode, to close the negative circle of poverty and environmental damage, and to balance the targets on environment improvement and poverty reduction, through environmental protection and restoration. This is a poverty reduction and development mode that focuses on the ecological character of poverty. Considering the various problems in the past projects such as lack of residents’ participation, restrictions of the eco-protection policy, lack of benefits for the population in poverty, etc. , combined with the periodic nature of the current poverty reduction work in China, we assume that the ecological poverty reduction strategy should include the following points:
Ecological improvement is the foundation for poverty management and basis for development
The bottleneck restricting socioeconomic growth in eco-frail area lies in the low carrying capacity of resources and the environment, and the rational utilization of resources and the improvement of the environment is the only way to realize sustainable development in a region. There are various causes for poverty in eco-frail areas including both income poverty and capability poverty, which is more about entitlement poverty. In the process of ecological deterioration, the poor suffered more than the rich, because eco-deterioration further presses up against the living space of poor people, reducing the acquirable resources and opportunities and thus deepening the poverty status. That is to say, ecological improvement is the only measure for alleviating poverty.
Without sustainable improvement of the environment, the poverty reduction strategy characterized by “blood transfusion” can only maintain a low level of livelihoods for poor people, and the government will carry a heavy burden of what is labeled low efficiency and unsustainable development. Development-oriented poverty reduction may continue to destroy the environment, so that people are locked in a negative circle of poverty and ecological damage. Without distinctive improvement of the carrying capacity of resources and the environment, the poverty reduction and economic growth-oriented measures will simply be like water without a source.
Equal participation of poor residents is a precondition of sustainable ecological improvement
Intuitively, the causes of ecological poverty come from the fact that a large population leads to a continual destroying of the environment. But one of the deep reasons is the “policy defect”, that is to say, unfair policy has excluded some of the low-capacity people from the development process, thus leading to more unbalanced regional development. Just because of the fear that poor people’s participation would affect the ecological improvement, during the implementing process of natural protection projects, etc., the local residents were considered a burden of project construction, and independent subsidies were provided to solve their livelihood problems; meanwhile, residents also certainly considered the ecological projects to be poverty reduction projects, and required the projects to compensate their losses due to the projects’ construction. Apparently, to rule the residents out of ecological projects will not only increase the costs of the projects but also increase the pressure on resources and the environment. All of the above are caused by a lack of inclusive project policy.
The most important things in implementing a poverty reduction strategy are to manage regional resources including natural resources and human resources, to mobilize all the positive factors, to make great efforts to improve the environment and to build a strong basis for poverty reduction. In fact, poor people have more enthusiasm for ecological improvement since they are the direct victims of environmental deterioration. They hope to further explore their development space and enhance their development capacity, and thus could become a sustainable power for improving the environment.
The ecological economy is the driving force for improving ecology and alleviating poverty
A fast-growing economy is not only the necessary condition of poverty reduction but also a core dynamic for ecological improvement. Economic growth has to proceed from improving the environment, prioritizing ecological industry and making it the pillar industry in eco-frail areas. The construction process of the ecological economy is the process of transitioning between economic patterns and production modes ( Huang Songwen, 2004). The development of the ecological economy will have low dependence on natural resources, and is the sunrise industry that suits eco-frail areas.
The advantages of eco-frail areas lie in their special products and landscape resources. Based on the above features the development of the ecological economy could drive employment in the region and attract external investment, and is thus a good development mode that can balance economic growth with eco-protection. There are many eco-industrial opportunities that suit eco-frail areas, such as eco-agriculture, compound management of agriculture, forestry and husbandry, eco- tourism, etc. All the above could push poor people’s participation and will encourage efficient poverty reduction.
Eco-compensation is the mechanism for sharing the eco-iimprovement results
The environmental deterioration in eco-frail areas will not only lead to poverty but also will spread throughout the whole ecosystem. If the deteriorating environment cannot be managed swiftly, it will lead to the deterioration of the surrounding area. At present, the eco-projects are mainly aimed at solving the eco-problems in key areas, such as “returning the farmland to forest” and “wind sand resources management in Beijing and Tianjin”. The eco-improvement in the project areas has a distinct influence for the surrounding area. As the eco-protective screen, eco-frail areas should have been compensated for sharing good ecological services with the surrounding areas, and also for their great support for ecological management.
Ecological compensation is an economic measure for balancing different interests, and also is an important component in the ecological poverty reduction strategy which guarantees that eco-frail areas can benefit directly from eco-improvement and protection. Now the eco-compensation mechanism in China is still in the early stage, which mainly counts on investment from the central government with compensation for the important forests, grassland and wetland symbolically. Therefore, ecological compensation could act as a focal point in the exploration of poverty reduction strategy; through establishing the eco-compensating mechanism on different levels, eco-frail areas could obtain the external financial support to better realize eco-improvement and poverty reduction.
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