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Table 3 Summary of environmental and socioeconomic outcomes of the CCFP

From: China’s conversion of cropland to forest program: a systematic review of the environmental and socioeconomic effects

  Environmental outcomes supported by evidence   Socioeconomic outcomes supported by evidence
Land-use and forest cover change The CCFP has contributed to rapid land-use change and afforestation. Forest area has increased much faster in the CCFP counties as compared with the rest of China, i.e. CCFP counties had a forest-cover increase of 5 % above the national average Income The CCFP has contributed to increased average levels of income for CCFP participant households. In some locations, households also perceived a negative impact of the CCFP on livelihoods, income and food production and/or food security
Tree survival rates Around 80 % of CCFP participating households have achieved tree survival rates above 70 % Employment The CCFP has contributed to the re-deployment of labor in hilly and mountainous areas, away from agriculture on slopes towards livestock rearing (in some areas, initially) and off-farm employment (generally)
Plans for reconversion back to cropland There is a high degree of variability across different regions with different geographical and socioeconomic conditions Land access and management Individual forestland certificates have been issued to the majority of CCFP participant households, which has been associated with a differentiation effect in households’ access to CCFP land plots
Biodiversity Though studies are few and limited in geographic scope, there are some localized indications of substitution of local species by monocultures, which can affect ecological functionality and provision of ecosystem services as well as economic and cultural value Food security The CCFP has reduced grain production with negative impacts on food security of participant households in some locations; however at the county and national levels, overall grain production has increased
Soil erosion and flood prevention Some positive results reported, although limited results in soil erosion control and flood prevention. Retention of nutrients has improved and water-yields reduced in some instances, but as mentioned, conservation strategies and their local possibilities should be weighed against each other Social equality The CCFP initially had a positive effect on both social equality and income mobility; this effect has been limited in recent years at least in part due to confounding factors related to the off-farm labor market
Biomass and carbon storage The CCFP has contributed to carbon sequestration, with the expansion of forest area and tree cover and associated biomass. Trade-offs between water and carbon ecosystem services have been identified Migration Research is limited as to the CCFP’s effects on the growing trend of rural-to-urban migration, but available evidence suggests the program’s effects on land-use and rural labor are ‘push’ factors that at least complement the ‘pull’ of off-farm employment and the urbanization of China