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Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5564-5591; doi:10.3390/su7055564

The Institutional Challenges of Payment for Ecosystem Service Program in China: A Review of the Effectiveness and Implementation of Sloping Land Conversion Program

1
Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Eberswalder Str. 84, 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
2
Department of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Invalidentr.42, 10115 Berlin, Germany
3
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Road, Chaoyang District, 100101 Beijing, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Yu-Pin Lin
Received: 25 December 2014 / Revised: 22 April 2015 / Accepted: 30 April 2015 / Published: 7 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Land Use and Ecosystem Management)
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Abstract

This study is an overview of the effectiveness and institutional challenges of China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP). The SLCP is the Chinese government’s largest Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program and one of the largest PES programs in the world. From an institutional perspective, the SLCP is particularly interesting because it represents a hybrid governance type that includes both voluntary and hierarchical (top-down) elements rather than traditional command-and-control approach. Our analysis is based on a literature review that encompasses 164 international scientific articles. To identify institutional challenges, we linked the results regarding the effectiveness of the program to its institutional aspects. Our SLCP case study highlights the dependence of the effectiveness of a governmental PES program on the specific regulatory institutional setting and the particular actors involved. Our results show that some institutional challenges undermine the anticipated advantages of PES (local participation) and eventually reshape the program outcomes through implementation process, particularly in cases of hybrid governance structures in which institutional requirements are as important as the design of the specific financial incentives. The collaboration between relevant government actors at different hierarchical levels, and specifically the motivations and interests of the government actors responsible for the implementation on the ground, play crucial roles. The SLCP can be an important milestone in environmental policy in China and the world, if more innovative elements of a theoretically ideal PES—such as local flexibility and self-interest (or at least the acceptance of the service providers supplying the relevant ecosystem services) can be strengthened. The environmental goals can be achieved in combination with greater self-interest of the applicable government actors on all hierarchical levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: grain for green program; land set-aside program; effectiveness of implementation; hybrid governance; PES; sustainability grain for green program; land set-aside program; effectiveness of implementation; hybrid governance; PES; sustainability
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Chen, C.; König, H.J.; Matzdorf, B.; Zhen, L. The Institutional Challenges of Payment for Ecosystem Service Program in China: A Review of the Effectiveness and Implementation of Sloping Land Conversion Program. Sustainability 2015, 7, 5564-5591.

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