EPIC: Ecosystem Policy Institute of China

Host Study Board

Coupled with its huge population, China’s booming economy has put great pressures on its natural resources and environment. Deforestation, desertification, wetland destruction, and farmland degradation have caused severe problems of soil erosion, flooding, water shortages, dust storms, and habitat losses. The government is thus waging unprecedented campaigns, such as the Natural Forest Protection Program, the Sloping Cropland Conversion Program, and the Desertification Combating Program, to address these problems.

However, many questions remain poorly answered as to whether these programs have been effectively implemented, what their induced socioeconomic and ecological impact are, and how they can achieve greater environmental and economic efficiency. Further, while the country’s leaders have stressed the building of a resource-conserving and environment friendly economy to achieve sustainable and harmonious development, it is unclear how it will accomplish this grand goal. Additionally, these challenges have come at a time when China is undergoing a fundamental economic transition, involving the reform of property rights, land tenure, and governance, and the establishment of market-based mechanisms for policy implementation.

Of course, China’s commitments to environmental conservation and sustainable development are in line with its international obligations and the global initiatives; and China’s lessons and experience will benefit many countries facing similar challenges. Therefore, it is of great interest and broad significance to study the unprecedented challenges in China’s ecosystem services and sustainability. It was based on these considerations that MSU and SFA decided to co-found EPIC in order to spearhead ecosystem policy research in China.

EPIC’s operation is guided by the two cooperating sides and advised by a committee of international experts. Its primary focus will be externally funded projects. In addition to research, EPIC organizes various events to disseminate outcomes, build capacity, and engage stakeholders.

MSU’s main participating party is the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; SFA’s main participating party is the Forest Economics and Development Research Center (FEDRC). Dr. Runsheng Yin from MSU’s Department of Forestry serves as EPIC’s Director; Dr. Guangcui Dai, Deputy Direct of the FEDRC, represents SFA in cooperating with MSU.


Runsheng Yin portrait

Runsheng Yin
Director of the Ecosystem Policy Institute of China
Professor of Resource Economics

Michigan State University
115 Natural Resources Building
(517) 432-3352
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Dr. Runsheng Yin is an associate professor of resource economics and policy at Michigan State University and an associate editor of Forest Science. He received his Ph.D. of forest resource economics from the University Georgia in 1995 and M.S. of forest economics from Beijing Forestry University in 1986. He is a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Economic Association, and Society of American Foresters. His research interests fall into two broad categories – international forestry and forest business management. Included in the former are the impact of economic reform on forestry development, land-use and land-cover change, sustainable forest management, agroforestry, forest products trade, and effects of ecosystem restoration; included in the latter are timberland ownership and forest investment, efficiency and productivity measurement, timber market dynamics, decision making under uncertainty. In additional to many book chapters, he has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles in such journals as World Development, Forest Science, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and Canadian journal of Forest Research. His contact information in the U.S. is: 110 Natural Resources, MSU, East Lansing, MI 48824; or (517) 432-3352; or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Studies of the issues related China’s ecological restoration programs

  1. Yin, Runsheng, Can Liu, Minjuan Zhao, Shunbo Yao, and Hou Liu. 2014. The Implementation and Impacts of China’s Largest Payment for Ecosystem Services Program as Revealed by Longitudinal Household Data. Land Use Policy 40: 45–55.
  2. Zhao, Minjuan, Runsheng Yin, Liuyang Yao, and Tao Xu. 2014. Assessing the Impact of China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program on Household Production Efficiency under Spatial Heterogeneity and Output Diversification. China Agricultural Economic Review (in press).
  3. Yin, R.S., Minjuan Zhao, and Shunbo Yao. 2014. Designing and implementing payments for ecosystem services programs: what lessons can be learned from China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program. Environmental Science and Technology 48: 19-20.
  4. Yin, Runsheng, Tianjun Liu, Shunbo Yao, and Minjuan Zhao. 2013. Designing and Implementing Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs: Lessons Learned from China’s Cropland Restoration Experience. Forest Policy and Economics 35: 66-72.
  5. Qiu, Linjing, Fenli Zheng, and Runsheng Yin. 2012. SWAT-Based Runoff and Sediment Simulation in a Small Watershed, the Loessial Hilly-Gullied Region of China: Capabilities and Challenges. International Journal of Sediment Research 27(2): 226-234.
  6. Liu, Ping and Runsheng Yin. 2012. Sequestering Carbon in China’s Forest Ecosystems: Potential and Challenges. Forests 3: 417-430.
  7. Yin, Runsheng and Minjuan Zhao. 2012. Ecological Restoration Programs and Payments for Ecosystem Services as Integrated Social-Ecological Processes. Ecological Economics 73(15): 56-65.
  8. Yin, Runsheng, Roger Sedjo, and Ping Liu. 2010. The Potential and Challenges of Sequestering Carbon and Generating Other Services in China’s Forest Ecosystems. Environmental Science & Technology 44: 5687-5688.
  9. Li, Changbin, Jiaguo Qi, Zhaodong Feng, Runsheng Yin, Songbing Zou, and Feng Zhang. 2010. Parameters Optimization Based on the Combination of Localization and Auto-Calibration of SWAT Model in a Small Watershed in Chinese Loess Plateau. Frontiers in Earth Science China 4(3): 296–310.
  10. Liu, Can, Jinzhi Lu, and Runsheng Yin. 2010. An Estimation of the Effects of China’s Forestry Programs on Farmers’ Income. Environmental Management 45(3): 526-540.
  11. Yin, Runsheng, Guiping Yin, and Lanying Li. 2010. Assessing China’s Ecological Restoration Programs: What’s Been Done and What Remains to Be Done? Environmental Management 45(3): 442-453.
  12. Li, Changbin, Jiaguo Qi, Zhaodong Feng, Runsheng Yin, Biyun Guo, Feng Zhang, and Zou Songbing. 2010. Process-Based Soil Erosion Simulation at the Regional Scale – The Impact of Ecological Restoration in Chinese Loess Plateau Region. Environmental Management 45(3): 476-487.
  13. Yin, Runsheng and Guiping Yin. 2010. China’s Ecological Restoration: Initiation, Implementation, and Challenges. Environmental Management 45(3): 429-441.
  14. Qing, Xiang, Runsheng Yin, Jintao Xu, and Xiangzheng Deng. 2010. The Driving Forces of Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes in the Upper Yangtze Basin. Environmental Management 45(3): 454-465.
  15. Zhao, Shuqing, Shuguang Liu, Runsheng Yin, Zhengpeng Li, Yulin Deng, Kun Tan, Xiangzheng Deng, David Rothstein, and Jiaguo Qi. 2010. Quantifying Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Dynamics in the Jinsha Watershed, Upper Yangtze, China from 1975 to 2000.  Environmental Management 45(3): 466-475.
  16. Yin, Runsheng and Qing Xiang. 2009. An Integrative Approach to Modeling Land Use Changes: The Multiple Facets of Agriculture in the Upper Yangtze Basin. Sustainability Science 5(1): 9-18.
  17. Xu, Jintao, Runsheng Yin, Zhou Li, and Can Liu. 2006. China’s Ecological Rehabilitation: Progress and Challenges. Ecological Economics 57(4): 595-607.
  18. Shen, Yueqin, Xianchun Liao, and Runsheng Yin. 2006. Measuring the Socioeconomic Impacts of China’s Natural Forest Protection Program. Environment and Development Economics 11(6): 769-788.
  19. Yin, Runsheng, Jintao Xu, Zhou Li, and Can Liu. 2005. China’s Ecological Rehabilitation: Unprecedented Efforts, Dramatic Impacts, and Requisite Policies. China Environment Series 6: 17-32.
  20. Yin, Runsheng. 2009. An Integrated Assessment of China’s Ecological Restoration Programs. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer (ISBN 978-90-481-2654-5).

 Studies of the issues related to the development and reform in China’s forest sector

  1. Yin., Runsheng, Leo Zulu, Jiaguo Qi. 2014.  Empirical Linkages Between Devolved Tenure Systems and Forest Conditions:  Literature Review and Synthesis.  Washington, DC:  USAID Tenure and Global Climate Change Program.
  2. Yin, Runsheng, Shunbo Yao, and Xuexi Huo. 2013. China’s Forest Tenure Reform and Institutional Change in the New Century: What Has Been Implemented and What Remains to Be Pursued? Land Use Policy 30: 825-833.
  3. Yin, Runsheng, Shunbo Yao, and Xuexi Huo. 2013. Deliberating how to resolve the challenges facing China’s forest tenure reform and institutional change. International Forestry Review 10: 534-543.
  4. Liu, Can and Runsheng Yin. 2004. Poverty Dynamics Revealed in the Production Performance and Forestry in Improving Livelihoods: the Case of West Anhui, China. Forest Policy and Economics 6: 391-401.
  5. Yin, Runsheng, Jintao Xu, and Zhou Li. 2003. Building Institutions for Markets: Experience and Lessons from China’s Rural Forest Sector. Environment, Development, and Sustainability 5: 333-351.
  6. Yin, Runsheng and Jintao Xu. 2002. A Welfare Evaluation of China Rural Forestry Reform. World Development 30(10): 1755-1767.
  7. Yin, Runsheng and W.F. Hyde. 2000. Trees as An Agriculture Sustaining Activity: the Case of Northern China. Agroforestry Systems 50: 179-194.
  8. Yin, Runsheng. 1998. Forestry and the Environment in China: the Current Situation and Strategic Choice. World Development 26(12): 2153-2167.
  9. Yin, Runsheng and D.H. Newman. 1997. The Impact of Rural Reform on China’s Forestry Development. Environment and Development Economics 2(3):289-303.
  10. Yin, Runsheng. 1994. China’s Rural Forestry since 1949. Journal of World Forest Resource Management 7:73-100.


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