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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Integrated watershed management : China-wide analysis and a case study in the Min River Basin, Fujian, China Wang, Guangyu


China’s watershed management policy and its forest tenure have undergone remarkable changes since the devastating floods of 1998. The government has launched key national programs and forest policy reforms, such as large-scale plantation and reforestation, logging bans in natural forests, land ownership reforms, and comprehensive flood control systems. The scale and investment of these programs are already producing tangible benefits to forest cover, the forest industry and rural livelihoods, yet the transition of China’s forestry sector to a sustainable operation remains in doubt. Watershed issues are complex and multidimensional. Forest management was for a long time viewed as contributing to environmental protection. However, forestry can be both positive and negative. Sustainable forest management is critical for forest-dependent communities in a forest-dominated watershed such as that of the Min River. The research presented here uses the Min River Watershed (Fujian, China) to examine aspects of watershed sustainability. Several topics are examined, including the effects of conventional forest practices on land degradation; the current state of bamboo forest resources and management in the watershed and the role of the bamboo forest industry in social development, economic growth and ecosystem protection; the impact of infrastructure development on soil erosion; patterns of land-use change in the Min River over the last 20 years using Landsat imagery; and public perceptions of watershed management in the watershed. This work has been placed into a broader context by examining current forest policies and their relation to environmental protection programs in China. Particular emphasis has been placed on the evaluation of forest policy and national programs to combat flooding. Watersheds are holistic systems where social, cultural, economic and environmental issues interact. Forestry is only one of several factors affecting watershed sustainability. Watershed management is a complex, dynamic and continually improving process. It needs to bring together personnel from diverse disciplines, to integrate data from multiple dimensions and to develop a comprehensive management tool that will enable managers, stakeholders and third party interest groups to work together more effectively in solving watershed problems.

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