National Forest Parks in China: Origin, Evolution, and Sustainable Development Chen, Ziru; Fu, Weicong; Konijnendijk van den Bosch, Cecil C.; Pan, Hui; Huang, Shuping; Zhu, Zhipeng; Qiao, Yuxuan; Wang, Nannan; Dong, Jianwen
The concept of National Forest Park (NFP) is mainly used in mainland China. Originating in 1982, NFP embodies a “top-down” concept and associated program launched by the Chinese government. It is aimed at promoting forest-based tourism and economic development under the premise of protecting forest resources. After 30 years of development, NFPs have made great achievements in protecting specific forest resources, promoting forest-based tourists, promoting regional economic development, and they have gained popularity worldwide. However, due to the fast pace of NFP expansion, lack of predictable planning and innovative thinking, and ineffective governance, some problems like overexploitation, scenic pollution, monotonous development patterns, and ecological degradation associated with NFP constrain its sustainable development. In order to solve these problems effectively, a holistic review of the status of NFPs in China is needed. To help meet this need, the origin, evolution, and current status of NFPs in China were analyzed. The presented research also included retrospective analyses of challenges and opportunities for NFPs sustainable development in China. Results show that from 1982 to 2015, the number of NFPs grew dramatically, and this development occurred in four phases. In addition, NFP development has been unbalanced in regional distribution. When analyzing the evolution of NFPs, the main issues to date have included failure to implement Master Plans in practice, unclear supervisory responsibilities, ambiguous classification, unbalanced distribution, destruction of natural resource and ecosystems, insufficient cultural protection, weak awareness of nature education, lack of resource statistics, monotonous planning, and weak marketing. Study findings can contribute to promoting the sustainable future development of NFPs and support the forest-based tourism industry.
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