Multiple scale delivery of ecosystem services and management in Southern Shaanxi Province and the Haihe River Basin
Societal demand for food, water and other life-sustaining resources is growing at unprecedented levels. Both ecosystem service and human development policies aimed to improve human well-being through the conservation of ecosystems that provide valuable services. Yet, how ecosystem services deliver at multiple scales, influence multiple stakeholders, and change through time is rarely carefully analyzed. Here we examine two different policies in China, both of which ostensibly aim to protect and provide ecosystem services. The programs are (1) the Relocation and Settlement Program (RSP) of Southern Shaanxi Province that pays households who opt voluntarily to resettle from mountainous areas and aims to reduce disaster risk, restore important ecosystem services, and improve human well-being; (2) the Key Shelterbelt Construction Program (KSCP) in North, Northeast and Northwest China that aims to improve ecosystem sand fixation service. We compare and contrast the different approaches of these programs using household surveys and biophysical data in an integrated economic cost-benefit analysis for multiple stakeholders (local residents, the Municipal government, and cross-region and global beneficiaries) in the RSP, and using field monitoring data and eco-hydrological models for local and watershed scale impact assessment in the KSCP. On the surface, the RSP is more integrated program that engages populations directly, while the KSCP is somewhat of a more traditional environmental management program. Both these programs have winners and losers that potentially trade off measures of wellbeing across different scales.
The ecosystem service delivery influences multiple stakeholders at multiple scales during the program implementations. The RSP will result in positive net benefits to all groups over the long run along with environment improvement, though there are significant short-run relocation costs. However, poor households may have difficulty participating because they lack the resources to pay the initial costs of relocation. Compensation from downstream beneficiaries for improved water and from carbon trades could be channeled into reducing relocation costs for the poor and sharing the burden of RSP implementation. KSCP also significantly improved sand fixation service in regional scale, which will improve health & wellbeing in north China. However, at watershed scale the implementation of KSCP significantly decreased downstream runoff and water resource provisioning service. Our results from these two cases indicate accounting over various scales of time and space is required to understand the ways that local changes can influence ecosystem service and human wellbeing outcomes. These have important applications for achieving multi-win goals in ecosystem service conservation programs.