Approaches

Terrace approach [China]

approaches_2399 - China

Completeness: 86%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
land user:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Book project: where the land is greener - Case Studies and Analysis of Soil and Water Conservation Initiatives Worldwide (where the land is greener)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Department of Resources and Environmental Science, Beijing Normal University (Department of Resources and Environmental Science, Beijing Normal University) - China
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
ISRIC-World Soil Information (ISRIC-World Soil Information) - Netherlands
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
GEF/OP12 Gansu Project (GEF/OP12 Gansu Project) - China

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:

Yes

1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

Highly organised campaign to assist land users in creating terraces: support and planning from national down to local level.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Before 1964, the slopes on China's Loess Plateau were cultivated up and down by machinery. Consequently soil and water were lost at high rates, and fertility and yields declined. Accessibility to cultivated land became more and more difficult due to dissection by gullies. The first terraces were established by self-mobilisation of the local land users. However there was no standard design. Furthermore, as the individual plots were very small and scattered all over the village land, terracing needed better coordination. Between 1964 and 1978, the local government at the county level took the initiative of organising farmers and planning terrace implementation according to specific technical design on a larger scale. At that time the land was still communally managed by production brigades. Through mass mobilisation campaigns people from several villages were organised to collectively terrace the land - village by village - covering around 2,000 hectares each year. Labour was unpaid.The Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC) came into being in 1948 - and the Upper and Middle Yellow River Bureau in 1977. This gave greater impetus to the implementation of SWC in the Loess Plateau. After 1978, land use rights were allocated to individuals (though official ownership was still vested in the state). SWC specialists and county level SWC bureaus started to work with groups of farmers who had land use rights within a given area. Survey and design were carried out. The farmers organised themselves, consolidated the parcels of land, and then after the conservation work was done they redistributed the terraced fields.
In the 1980s the government started to financially support land users involved in SWC projects. Subsidies ranged from (approx.) US$* 20/ha in projects at county level, to US$* 55/ha for national projects (eg through the Yellow River Commission), and up to US$* 935/ha when World Bank projects were involved - as in the recent past. Implements were provided by the farmers themselves. Then, in 1988 a nationwide project in SWC - which originally was proposed at county level - was approved by the national government. Furthermore, in 1991 a national law on SWC came into force. Protection of the Yellow River and associated dams became a priority at regional and national levels. In total, within Zhuanglang County, 60 SWC specialists/extensionists cover an area of 1,550 km2, and most of the terraces were built with low levels of subsidies. Annual plans about implementation of new SWC measures were made during summer. Small areas were planned at village or township level, whereas bigger areas (> 7 hectares) were designed at county level. Implementation then took place during winter. Terracing was implemented first where access was easiest and closest to settlements, and only later, further away. * exchange rate: 1 US$ = 8 Chinese Yuan (May 2006).

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied

Country:

China

Region/ State/ Province:

Gansu Province, Loess Plateau Region

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:

1964

2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

Aims of the approach are: - water conservation (this is a semi-arid area), - soil conservation: reduce soil loss on the sloping and erosion-prone land of loess plateau, - enhancing soil fertility, and consequently production, - improve people's living conditions, These primary objectives were to be achieved by building level bench terraces on a large scale through a structured and organised campaign. Finally at the national level, a fourth aim was added: the protection of the Yellow river (avoiding floods and reducing the sediment load)
The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: - lack of organisation, capital and technical knowledge in farmer communities to counter the underlying problems of water loss, soil loss, fertility decline and downstream effects on the Yellow River (floods and sediment) at catchment level, - absence or poor maintenance of erosion control measures

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • hindering

Initially farmers were not paid and as they had no immediate benefit from, or security over, the use of the land. The investment in construction was a heavy burden on poor farmers.
Treatment through the SLM Approach: After 1988, labour inputs by farmers started to be partly covered by subsidies provided by local and national government

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • hindering

Land users leased the land from the state and land users??? rights were insecure in the long term. Investments in SWC were not encouraged.
Treatment through the SLM Approach: National government persuaded land users to implement terraces by 'selling' the benefits (increased yield and easier workability of the land). After 1978, individual user rights motivated farmers to invest in SWC.
The existing land ownership, land use rights / water rights hindered a little the approach implementation Ownership of land and its resources belongs to state and communities: land users only lease the land for a period of time. Due to uncertainty over future user rights and possible reallocation in response to changes in population and household needs, additional investments into measures may be hindered. 1978 a first major change took place by allocating some individual land use rights.

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • hindering

Poor knowledge of how to reduce water loss, soil loss and fertility loss. Technical solutions were needed at the catchment level, involving the whole population.
Treatment through the SLM Approach: Enhanced guidance by SWC specialists.

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities
  • national government (planners, decision-makers)
3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation interactive Land users started implementing terraces but SWC specialists at the country level assisted in designing standards for terrace construction and township governments and production brigades organised whole villages and watersheds
planning passive Being consulted in the planning phase. Experienced peasants may be involved in introducing the local situation.
implementation interactive Major organisation done through the SWC bureau specialists with the village organisation including land users. Land users were actively involved in implementation.
monitoring/ evaluation none reporting; No participation of land users
Research none on-station; No participation of land users

3.3 Flow chart (if available)

Description:

Terrace construction supported by projects from MWR, YRCC and international organisations (left) and terrace construction supported by provincial funds (right).

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • mainly SLM specialists, following consultation with land users
Explain:

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by by politicians / leaders. Decisions are made by politicians/SWC specialists; land users are consulted in the planning phase (experienced farmers may be involved initially).

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?

Yes

Specify who was trained:
  • land users
Form of training:
  • on-the-job
  • farmer-to-farmer
  • demonstration areas
  • courses
Subjects covered:

Until 1978 the 'pyramid system' was used: the county level trained the township level, which trained the village level, which in turn trained the production brigades/farmers, who then trained other production brigades and farmers.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?

Yes

Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • on land users' fields
Describe/ comments:

Key elements: Pyramid system is also used for extension. At each government level (county, district and provincial levels) there is a SWC division in charge of SWC activities includ. extension (farm visits)

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, moderately
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Specify type of support:
  • financial

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?

Yes

Comments:

bio-physical aspects were regular monitored through measurements; indicators: runoff loss, sediment load, soil moisture
technical aspects were regular monitored through measurements; indicators: structure of terraced areas, slope of risers, levelness of terrace surface
socio-cultural aspects were ad hoc monitored through observations; indicators: land users' perceptions of terraces
economic / production aspects were regular monitored through measurements; indicators: yield, income of land users
area treated aspects were regular monitored through measurements; indicators: terraced area
land users involved aspects were ad hoc monitored through measurements; indicators: number of farmers directly involved in terracing and farmers benefited directly
management of Approach aspects were ad hoc monitored through observations; indicators: number of small watersheds terraced
There were changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation: The approach changed fundamentally from self-mobilisation to organised mass movements guided by the government.

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?

Yes

Specify topics:
  • economics / marketing
  • ecology
  • technology
Give further details and indicate who did the research:

carried out at the provincial and national levels, mostly by technical staff. Land users have not been involved. Terrace building is based on scientific design, according to local conditions.

Research was carried out on station

5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: government (national): 10.0%; local community / land user(s) (-): 90.0%

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • paid in cash
Comments:

Beteween the 1960s-1970s farmers were not paid for their labour inputs. From the 1980s onwards the government rewarded the community for establishment of terraces with cash, projects paid on the basis of area treated, and at different rates.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?

Yes

Specify conditions (interest rate, payback, etc.):

Interest rate charged: 0.5%; repayment conditions: Credit was available at interest rates (0.5-1% per year) lower than the market rates.

6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Soil and water management have improved a lot: easier workability, intensified land use, in-situ water retention, top soil and fertilizer/manure are not washed away, etc.

Did other land users / projects adopt the Approach?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

As the Zhuanglang area was one of the pioneering areas for the Loess Plateau other regions were able to profit from the approach. But likewise, experiences gained in other counties helped improve the approach, and a basically similar approach has been applied over the whole Loess Plateau - though the level of subsidies for construction is much higher under World Bank projects.

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • uncertain
If no or uncertain, specify and comment:

Given the recent escalation in payments made to land users for implementation under certain projects it seems that the costs will be too high to sustain. Currently the Ministry of Finance is demanding that in-depth cost-benefit analyses are carried out involving environmental, social as well as economic assessments.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Farmers are getting direct benefits: marked increase in productivity, improved workability of the land, etc.
The collective activities/organisation strengthens the community and enhances social stability and coherence within villages; collective activities are expanded to other sectors, such as road construction, supply of agrochemical inputs, etc.
Heavy investment made by the land users and local as well as national government to reduce land degradation.
Many people involved and trained at different levels (pyramid system; see training/extension); commitment by all stakeholders.
Efficient organisation, planning to cover a large area, which is very susceptible to land degradation.

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
High costs: farmers depend on external support from the government, they are not willing to invest their labour without payments (as it used to be in communist times) New approach: give farmers loans for construction as now they use machines to do the work. In addition, search for cheaper SWC technologies and for improving the benefits.
The steeper slopes which are also further away from the village, are now often not cultivated and maintained as they are too far and marginal in production Solutions need to be found for these areas, eg afforestation.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Jiangdingsheng, ACTA CONSERVATIONIS SOLI ET AQUAE SINICA, 1987. Discussion on section design of the terrace on the Loess Plateau; Vol. 1, No. 2,

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Corpus of economic benefits of water and soil measures, p77-102, 510-514

Available from where? Costs?

Water and Soil Conservation Department of Yellow River Water Resources Committee of Ministry of Wate

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Corpus of Test Research of Water and Soil Conservation, p130-185 (the second volume)

Available from where? Costs?

Suide Water and Soil Conservation examination station

Links and modules

Expand all Collapse all

Modules