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Title: Forestland and property rights in China : evolution towards private rights and public regulation
Author: Ng, Shin Wei
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 4622
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the impact of the current land ownership arrangement on the use and management of collective forestland in China. Increasingly, the focus of China's forest and forestry is shifting from timber production to the conservation and protection of the forest ecosystem. So far the Chinese government has carried out a number of major programmes that seek to increase the forest cover and to reduce commercial exploitation in its natural forests. These large-scale state-sponsored programmes involved not only the state but also the collective forests. The government has overwhelming control over the collective forests in relation to the production and use of forest resources. This thesis argues that this is mainly induced by the current land ownership arrangement. Although the collectives are 'self-governing' bodies and democratic elections are practised, the collectives nevertheless act more like the 'agents' of the government than true representatives of the collective members. By retaining control over collective governance, the state manages to assert control over the use of collective forests in other words, the state has chosen to regulate land and forest use via the ownership structure. With little protection for individual rights, the state imposes rigid and intrusive measures that severely limit the autonomy of land users and create instances of abuse of power by those who are in control. This has resulted in various serious and negative consequences: inefficient use of forest and land resources slow growth of rural economy limited and incomplete private rights increasing wealth gap and last but not the least, slow development in the rule of law. As a result, future reforms of collective forests will be futile if the ownership regime is not changed. It is argued that a private ownership regime is now viable and will help China's rural society to achieve further economic, social and legal development. Under a private ownership regime, the government can exercise control over forest and land use via public regulation, which would allow land use to be regulated in a more transparent and efficient way without compromising individual autonomy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available