Ecosystem services for Poverty Alleviation under Multiple Stresses in Mountainous Western China (Joint Proposal - Lead, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Project Details


Poverty is particularly prevalent in mountainous areas; where 12.28 million poor people live (equating to 51.9% of the total poor population). Most of the poor in China are in west and central regions, and poverty is particularly prevalent in mountainous Western China, which is characterized by its highly vulnerable ecosystem (recognised as a biodiversity 'hotspot' and a significant carbon store) to natural hazards and the impact of climate change and human interference. High poverty levels in Western China have been attributed to growing population pressure, a low level of development, and severe land and ecological degradation through deforestation and farming on slopes. In its forestry sector, China faces the combined challenge of meeting an increasing demand for wood and other NTFPs while at the same time considerably raising its investment in forest-based environmental services. Climate change is projected to have significant effects on China's ecosystems, and is therefore likely to impact upon the status and distribution of ecosystem services. Assessment of such impacts is vital in order to identify regions in which adaptation to climate change could be a priority. Alpine areas are particularly vulnerable to climatic conditions, and montane ecosystems have therefore received particular attention. In addition, central and Western areas of China are tectonically active and are subject to earthquakes and earthquake induced debris flow. The immediate impact of these events and the prolonged aftermath they perpetuate are well recognised as a major factor in resulting in people falling into poverty.

The Great Western Development Strategy initiated in 1999 has been enhancing social and economic development of poor-stricken regions in Western Mountain China. However, the financial input could not fully meet the need of the large number of poor populations there.

During the consortium building period, a workshop in Chengdu will bring together the poor communities, local and area policy/decision makers, other stakeholders, and researchers, in order to develop partnership, better identify research needs, set up the research network, and define the project management scheme.

Through a well structured multidisciplinary partnership, the consortium research will develop an innovative conceptual framework for analysis of sustainable management of ecosystems for poverty alleviation focusing on the mountain area of Yangtze Upper Reaches under multiple stresses in the context of accelerated global climate changes, regional natural hazards of high risk and the construction of Three Gorge Dam. The supply of ecosystem services and its market and non-market value will be identified for poverty reduction by the promotion of 'drought- and hazard- resistant' agriculture, tourism and lower carbon development, and biofuel application. Specifically, water security (availability and quality of surface water and groundwater for various uses) in the ecosystems under the impact of the Three Gorges Dam will be analyzed. The biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, and their associated ecosystem services in response to high risk natural hazards and accelerated environmental changes will be determined, with emphasis on natural reserves. This research will deliver integrated strategies for sustainably managing ecosystem for maximizing poverty reduction and increase resilience of the poor of natural hazards, and enhancing the capacity of central and local authorities to co-ordinate and implement the management schemes by the engagement with policy/decision makers from the early consortium building stage and throughout the consortium research.. A website will be established to publicise the aims of the project to be developed under Stream 2b. This web-presence will not only inform but will also solicit for both academic and social input form stakeholders.
Effective start/end date27/07/1026/01/11


  • Natural Environment Research Council: £20,275.00