Use of carbon sequestration to finance the reforestation of poor farmers' marginal farmland: A case study of China

  • DELANG, Claudio O. (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    In many countries, poor farmers farm marginal land that is not very fertile and prone to erosion. Farming such land has considerable negative environmental impacts (locally and downstream), and generates low incomes to the farmers. The country would benefit if such land was reforested, yet most countries do not have the financial resources to compensate farmers for the loss of agricultural income, and to finance reforestation. In this research we propose 1) to assess whether the value of the carbon sequestered by the trees can be used to finance reforestation and compensate farmers for their loss of agricultural incomes; 2) to determine the optimal rotation period of the trees, taking into consideration a) the value of the timber and related non-timber products, b) the value of the carbon and c) the opportunity cost of the land. The financial support for reforestation could come from carbon trading mechanisms (through Certified Emission Reductions [CER] and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation [REDD/REDD+]), which are being developed by the international community to help finance reforestation/afforestation.

    Fieldwork for this research will be carried out in Chongqing municipality in China, among farmers who joined the Grain for Green (GfG) programme. The GfG is the largest reforestation and rural development programme in the world, involving 32 million households, and costs over Yuan 400 billion. With the GfG programme, poor farmers are paid to reforest their marginal (mostly slope) land. The programme is presently being funded by the Chinese government, but the financial support is set to end. On the other hand, the Chinese government is planning to introduce a nation-wide carbon market by 2017. Our research will help the Chinese government assess the extent to which reforestation can be paid through carbon credits. Fieldwork will involve the collection and analysis of soil samples and surveys of the vegetation of reforested and not-reforested land, to determine the amount of carbon sequestered through reforestation since the program was first implemented, as well as socio-economic surveys of households, to assess the attitudes towards reforestation. Chongqing municipality has considerable environmental and socioeconomic diversity. Such diversity will allow the team to extrapolate the findings to the rest of China, as well as to other countries where farmers are farming degraded, marginal land.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1730/06/20

    UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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