Jiangxi, an underdeveloped province in the southeast-central part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is 78% mountains and hills. Forestry plays an important role in its economic development and environmental sustainability, however, about 1.5 million of its 10.6 million hectares (ha) designated forestland was barren or low yielding, as of project appraisal. Underutilization of the forestland had significantly damaged the environment, causing soil erosion, siltation of rivers and lakes, and the deterioration of water quality and conservation.
To help address the challenges, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $40 million loan for the Jiangxi Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Development Project in November 2010. At appraisal, the project’s intended impact was improved sustainable forest management (SFM) to enhance forest production, environmental benefits, and rural livelihoods in the province. Its expected outcome was improved forest cover and rural livelihoods in the project area, to be delivered through four outputs: (i) sustainable forest plantation development and rehabilitation, (ii) strengthened forest insurance for natural risk mitigation, (iii) capacity development for SFM, and (iv) project management support. A $1 million grant from ADB’s Climate Change Fund (CCF) also supported the project’s capacity development activities.
Covering 18 counties, cities, or districts, 8 of which are categorized as national poverty counties, the project was completed in October 2017. Implementation generally followed the original project design, while the actual project counties involved and final afforestation or rehabilitation area of each silviculture category reflected the actual interest of local communities and market changes. At completion, the project delivered most of its intended outputs. A total of 29,727 ha timber plantation, comprising 83.3% of the target, was developed on barren forestland to improve forest productivity and help meet local demand for construction materials and other wood products. Low-yielding and snowstorm-damaged bamboo forests were rehabilitated, and tree-crops were grown to improve household incomes. A total of 46 forest farms, 59 forest enterprises, 9 united households, 225 large households, and 127 individual households directly benefited from the plantation activities supported by subloans from the project.
A forest insurance policy provided for the project timber plantation improved the resilience of forest farmers, enterprises, and farms. Farmers were made aware of the benefits of forest insurance as well as trained in risk mitigation measures. A training and extension program, including a trainers’ training, international and domestic study tours, and local workshops, improved the SFM and climate change mitigation knowledge and skills of forestry officials and staff and forest workers and farmers. The CCF cofinanced activities established a monitoring, verification, and reporting system for forest carbon stock estimation in Jiangxi; and 80 pilots on 380 ha demonstrated SFM in snowstorm-damaged and low-function forests to enhance carbon sequestration capacity and mitigate climate disaster risks.
Substantial output deliveries enabled the project to achieve its expected overall outcome, albeit falling short on its targets in job creation and rent from land leasing. Forest cover in the project area increased. Forest product yields became as good as those of Jiangxi’s first-rate forests. Due consideration was paid to balancing the economic and ecological functions of the project forest. The SFM concept and approach were institutionalized within the Jiangxi Forestry Department (JFD) through capacity development activities. While generating significant environmental benefits, the project thus also contributed to sustainable socioeconomic development and poverty reduction in the project area.
The project had the People’s Government of Jiangxi Province, represented by the JFD, as executing agency. County and district governments served as implementing agencies.