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Economic growth, government policies, and forest transition in China

Wang, Jiayue, Xin, Liangjie, Wang, Yahui
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.4 pp. 1023-1033
agricultural land, arable soils, environmental Kuznets curve, forest growth, forest restoration, forests, issues and policy, models, urbanization, China
This paper uses panel data to analyze whether a forest transition has occurred in China and to identify the driving forces behind forest growth in China. We used generalized method of moments (GMM) model to identify forest transition. Analyzing forest transition only at the national level neglects regional differences. The results show that there exists an environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) relationship between forest cover and per capita GDP at the provincial level in China. Considering the processes of urbanization, economic development, the abandonment of arable land, and changes in forested area as a whole, it is concluded that a forest transition has already occurred in China and that the turning point took place in the 1990s. Forest restoration in China is affected by both the economic development path and the forest scarcity path. Economic development and strict policies have played important roles in forest recovery in China. In the early period of the forest transition, the forest scarcity path dominated; however, in the long run, the marginalization of agricultural land is the key driver of the forest transition.