The Everyday Lives of Policies and People
Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang
Chapter 13: How Local Politics Shape Intervention Practices in the Xiaolongshan Forest Region of Gansu, NW China
Liu Jinlong This chapter focuses on the local politics of village and township relations and examines the contradictions that arose when an attempt was made to introduce a European Community (EC) funded project to establish village committees for forest management planning. The location is a village in the Xiaolongshan Forest Region of Gansu Province, northwest China, where the Natural Forest Protection Programme (NFPP) had been implemented. The case data relate to a series of highly charged political situations that highlight both continuities and transformations in the structure of power and authority in present-day rural China. All the struggles and conflicts that followed the attempt to form a planning committee in the ten project villages were conducted in the name of forest management, but in reality they had little to do with forests at all. Forests are intimately interwoven in rural people’s livelihoods, daily practices and politics, and in China the forest protection programme created arenas of struggle in which both trees and local forest dwellers usually found themselves on the losing side (Doornbos et al. 2000). The high visibility of these unresolved conflicts has spurred theoretical developments, policy interventions and institutional changes (Fairhead and Leach 2000), yet neither local actors nor researchers have developed a solid basis for resolving them. Using an actor-oriented approach (Long and Long 1992; Long 2001), this chapter reveals and describes the various actors – institutional and individual – and their lives and strategies associated with forests. That is, it details the conflicts and accommodations that have to...
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