In March 2000, China introduced the Grain-to-Green program, aimed at converting cultivated land on steep slopes back into forests with the goal of minimizing erosion and mitigating the impact of flooding. It marked one of the largest scale conservation programs of all time.
Estimates place land loss into the Yellow and Yangtze rivers to be nearly four billion tons a year. Erosion is a key factor in both poor soil and water quality in the region. But, the cost of afforestation may be greater than initially anticipated.
The loss of arable land could lower the nation’s grain supply and skyrocket food prices. Known as “slippage effects,” these negative externalities can have dire implications for the conservation program’s effectiveness. In my term paper, I’ll address these issues, looking at the cost-effectiveness of the program and its long-term viability.