Despite an extensive literature indicating that protected areas (PA) affect negatively local people’s livelihood and can even exacerbate local poverty, a few studies found that PA can have positive effects on the local economy by promoting eco-tourism. In this study, we conducted a three-period survey of 170 rural households in Wuyi Mountain National Nature Reserve (WNR) in northern Fujian province of China during 2010–2014. We used robust random effect models to examine the effects of PA on local livelihood. A novel finding is that households (HHs) within WNR have much higher total income and total income per capita than HHs nearby WNR. HHs within WNR have a simple livelihood strategy with an extremely high dependence on the black tea industry, and HHs nearby WNR have diversified livelihood strategy with an increasing dependence on the black tea industry. Our results show that HH income is positively related to the age and education of the HH head. Membership of a large clan and financial and technical assistance can contribute to increasing HH income. HHs that engage only in farming as well as those that are a member of farm cooperative are likely to have lower income. The results also indicate a positive spill-over effect of communities within WNR on communities nearby WNR. We argue that communities within WNR should diversify their livelihood strategy to control risk, and communities nearby WNR should explore their comparative advantages rather than following the example of communities within WNR to expand black tea production.
Journal of Forest Economics, Volume 36, Issue 1-2 Special issue - Nature Conservation: Articles Overiew
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