Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 415–426 | Cite as

Sustainable Forestry and Local People: The Case of Hainan’s Li Minority

  • Evan G. R. Davies
  • Susan K. Wismer


On the island of Hainan, China, the provincial government has recently committed itself to sustainable development, which requires the integration of social, environmental, and economic factors in decision making. However, while Hainan’s recent Eco-province designation establishes environmental and economic factors as the basis of policy development, it overlooks the equally important social component of sustainability, in which social needs and values are key considerations. This paper presents the results of a study on Hainan in 2002, with government officials, forestry workers, and the Li, an indigenous minority group, and places the province’s situation within the context of both the larger changes underway in China, and the theory and practice of sustainable forestry. The research results show that the government of Hainan has not yet been able to manage both social welfare and environmental and economic issues, demonstrating the difficulty of implementing sustainable forestry and of balancing short- with long-term goals. The inclusion of Li communities in forestry-related decision making could reduce tensions between local communities and forestry management and also improve the sustainability of the government’s forestry practices.

Key words

Sustainable development sustainable forestry Li people Hainan Island China 



We wish to thank people on two continents for their help with this research. At the University of Waterloo, Geoffrey Wall and David Wood provided sound advice and financial support for the field research. At Qiongzhou University, on Hainan, we are indebted to George Zhang and Prof. Chen, and to our translators, Wang Yufei and Yu Wenjie; Wang Yufei helped not only with the research, but also helped in understanding China a little better—to her, we are truly grateful. George Wu and Zheng Wei, of the HLER, and Zhang Zhong, an official in Shuiman Xiang, set up visits with government officials and nature reserve personnel, and generally smoothed the way in China. Many thanks also go to Frank Flasche, who was so helpful throughout the research. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), of Ecoplan China and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and of the Department of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo. We also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of the first version of this article, who have helped to broaden the focus of the subsequent version and to improve its content and conclusions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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