Economic growth, government policies, and forest transition in China

  • Jiayue Wang
  • Liangjie XinEmail author
  • Yahui Wang
Original Article


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.


Forest transition Forest growth in China Driving forces China 1990s 


Funding information

This study was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571095) and National Key Basic Research Program of China (2015CB452702).

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1450_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1095 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and SimulationInstitute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CASBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Geographical ScienceSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina

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