This paper addresses the current research void on local community views of changes in ecosystem services associated with rapid land use transformation in the context of plantation-based forestry. This interview-based study, conducted in southern China, aims at assessing the perspectives of local communities of: 1) the effects of Eucalyptus industrial plantations on selected ecosystem services and on local development; and 2) opportunities for future community livelihood development, based on the relations with the government and with forest industry operating locally. We analysed data from semi-structured interviews with 70 villagers for their views on changes in ecosystem services after the establishment of plantations, and their future expectations on the local livelihood development. Most interviewees mentioned some negative development on environmental quality after the establishment of the industrial plantations, especially on soil and water. Furthermore, the reduced productivity of cropland surrounding industrial plantations, coupled with other financial drivers, induced several villagers to switch from agricultural crops to household plantations. In the absence of destructive typhoons, household plantations can provide owners more free time, higher income, while industrial plantations provided some employment opportunities. Interviewees’ expectations for the future included receiving financial support and capacity building for household plantations and crops, support to local roads and schools, and higher employment opportunities. Some interviewees suggested that solutions should be implemented for improving degraded water quality, while others suggested reducing forestry operations. Even though being highly context-specific, our findings open up the discussion about the further community development opportunities in the context of plantation forestry. In particular, the potential of value sharing mechanisms between the private sector and the local communities should be further studied.
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Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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