Effects of Natural Disasters on Conservation Policies: The Case of the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, China


Andrés Viña; Xiaodong Chen; Bill McConnell; Wei Liu;  Weihua Xu; Zhiyun Ouyang; Hemin Zhang; Jianguo "Jack" Liu

Journal or Book Title: Ambio

Keywords: "Conservation", "Grain-to-Green Program", "Natural disaster", "Natural Forest Conservation Program", "Payments for ecosystem services", "Wenchuan Earthquake"

Year Published: 2010


Abstract Conservation policies are increasing in
response to human-induced ecosystem degradation, but
little is known about their interplay with natural disasters.
Through an analysis of satellite imagery and field data we
evaluated the impacts of a devastating earthquake on forest
recovery and avoided forest loss estimated to have been
obtained by two of the largest conservation programs in the
world. Results show that more than 10% of the forests in
Wenchuan County, Sichuan province, China were immediately
affected by the 2008 earthquake, offsetting some
gains in forest cover observed since the enactment of the
conservation programs. But without the enactment of these
conservation programs, the combined effects of human
disturbance and earthquake-induced landslides could have
severely reduced the region’s forest cover. The continuation—
and enhancement—of incentives for participation in
conservation programs will be important for reducing the
environmental impacts of the combined effects of human
disturbance and natural hazards not only in the study area
but also in many disaster-prone regions around the world.

DOI: 10.1007/s13280-010-0098-0

Type of Publication: Journal Article