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From State-controlled to Polycentric Governance in Forest Landscape Restoration: The Case of the Ecological Forest Purchase Program in Yong’an Municipality of China


Forest landscape restoration is emerging as an effective approach to restore degraded forests for the provision of ecosystem services and to minimize trade-offs between conservation and rural livelihoods. Policy and institutional innovations in China illustrate the governance transformation of forest landscape restoration from state-controlled to polycentric governance. Based on a case study of the Ecological Forest Purchase Program in Yong’an municipality, China’s Fujian Province, this paper explores how such forest governance transformation has evolved and how it has shaped the outcomes of forest landscape restoration in terms of multi-dimensionality and actor configurations. Our analysis indicates that accommodating the participation of multiple actors and market-based instruments facilitate a smoother transition from state-centered to polycentric governance in forest landscape restoration. Governance transitions for forest landscape restoration must overcome a number of challenges including ensurance of a formal participation forum, fair participation, and a sustainable legislative and financial system to enhance long-term effectiveness.