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Local Responses to Inundation and De-Farming in the Reservoir Region of the Three Gorges Project (China)
- Jim, C. Y., Yang, Felix Y.
- Environmental management 2006 v.38 no.4 pp. 618-637
- agricultural land, attitudes and opinions, cities, environmental impact, image analysis, income, issues and policy, migrant workers, people, questionnaires, rural areas, rural development, surveys, topography, villages, young adults, China, Yangtze River
- Large-scale infrastructural developments in rural areas often impose significant direct and indirect impacts on environment and people. The Three Gorges Project to dam the Yangtze River in China will create a huge reservoir, inundate farmlands and villages, and incur large-scale resettlement. The concurrent de-farming program to reforest marginal farmlands on steep slopes imposes additional stresses on local people. This study evaluates the ecological and economic adjustments in rural areas affected by both projects, and explores villagers’ knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and expectations vis-à-vis the drastic changes. Eleven villages in Yunyang County in Sichuan Province, stratified into three zones based on topography and agriculture, were assessed by field studies, questionnaire surveys, maps, satellite imagery, and census and government reports. Multiple regressions identified predictors for 17 dependent variables. Spatial variations in the difficult terrain imposed zone-differentiated agricultural constraints, ecological impacts, and human responses. The dominant farming population—mainly young adults working as migrant laborers in cities—has adopted some nonagricultural work to supplement incomes. Expected per-capita standardized farmland (SF) exceeded threshold SF, which surpasses existing SF. Motivations to reclaim more farmlands, de-farm marginal lands, and become migrant laborers were explained by different multiple-regression predictors. Reduction in farmland stock by inundation and de-farming, aggravated by unwillingness towards nonlocal resettlement, would impose ecological pressures and stimulate demands for nonfarming incomes. Common anticipation of better future income and occupation has been subdued by unfavorable feedbacks from early relocatees. Future environmental and landscape changes are hinged upon changing human responses. Government policies could be informed by research findings to match economic, ecological, and social realities.