Yu Rong (Joy) Liu
Arid Lands Resource Sciences
2016 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting
Vancouver, CA 25
March 29-April 2, 2016
Title: Intersection of self and collaborative-‐governance: Understanding collaborative reforestation and its effect on livelihoods of Chinese smallholders.
To what extent do local farmers collaborate with local government and non-‐ governmental organizations (NGO) in reforestation in dryland rural China? This case study of two rural counties with different socio-‐economic-‐environmental contexts demonstrates how leadership, consequential incentives, interdependence and uncertainty enable different forms of collaboration and conflict to co-‐exist in Gansu and Shanxi province, China. Comparative analysis of the subsidies, technological training and local political-‐environmental networks and initial ethnographic interviews with local government, local farmers, research institution, and NGO, revealed that local land owners are less likely to participate in collective actions in resource-‐scarce areas and on the other hand how power relations and weak engagement between stakeholders resulted in knowledge deficiency and the delay of the integration of wildfire mitigation in current conservation strategies, and increased risk for farmers’ livelihoods. Examining the collaboration dynamics among stakeholders may help us understand what drives dissonance between values and subsequent collaborative behavior in the context of dryland conservation in China.
Abstract for Lay Audience
Contrary to popular belief, farmers in rural China are active in land management and aware of the risk of environment degradation. However, their decisions to participate in government or non-‐governmental organization-‐-‐sponsored reforestation programs and conservation projects hinge on their perception of risk and cost involved, political and financial gains, community leadership and long term pursuit of their household prosperity. This study compares and analyzes the development of collaborative reforestation and conservation projects in two counties in rural Shanxi and Gansu provinces on the Loess Plateau of China, and demonstrates how drought-‐adapted farming communities are more independent of governmental subsidies compared to their less drought-‐adapted counter-‐parts, and how relying on formal contractual binding power to implement projects without consulting local environmental concerns such as fire hazard will delay collaborative actions and desirable conservation outcomes. This research will advance knowledge in the fields of natural resource management and applied anthropology by demonstrating the role of different collaborative behaviors in environmental governance and providing a new perspective on agricultural transformation in rural China.