Mosaic of reform: forest policy in post-1978 China

S. Wang, G.C. van Kooten, B. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


With the start of economic reforms in 1978, China's forest sector was caught up in a whirlwind of change. It began with the devolution of forest tenures in rural areas, but led to reform of state-owned forest enterprises via introduction of stumpage fees and liberalized forest product prices. From the early 1990s to 1998, while China increasingly embraced the market economy, the nation's natural forests continued to be depleted despite repeated emphasis on sustainable development. Then, in the wake of the 1998 floods in the Yangtze River basin, there was a shift in focus from timber production to environmental protection, with policy redirected toward the rehabilitation of damaged forest ecosystems, afforestation in desertified and degraded areas, and a ban on logging in natural forests. We provide an overview of the central themes of reform in China's forestry sector, identify the major factors that influenced policy formulation, and show that the outcomes of China's forest policy changes in the aggregate represent a paradigm shift.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages12
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • environment
  • tenure


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