Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/The transition of Taiyuan City from one of the world's top 10 most polluted cities to a leading green city in China

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The transition of Taiyuan City, from one of the world's top 10 most polluted cities to a leading green city in China

Aerial view of Taiyuan


Community forestry is not only restricted to rural area forest stands that are in association with the local people. Community forestry perhaps may have a stronger tie with the community in urban areas. The concept of urban forestry is a new and upcoming term, gaining accumulative attention in the People's Republic of China. Urban forestry in cities are can almost be looked at as the same meaning as community forestry, especially in China. China's smog problem is world renowned, therefore any improvements of forestry in urban areas can impact communities in the cities.

Taiyuan(太原) city, located in Shan Xi(山西) Province in Northern China

Taiyuan(太原) is located in Northern China's Shan Xi(山西) Province, and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The second largest tributary of the Yellow River, the Fen River, runs by the city. Taiyuan is located at the northern tip of the Taiyuan basin[1].Taiyuan was one of Northern China's most important cities, regarding both military and cultural factors[2]. Taiyuan's summers are hot and rainy, while its winters are cold and dry[3]. People used to be very dependent on coal produced power to fulfill daily energy requirements. During winters, the use of coal would rapidly increase, and along with its dry winters, and its geological location, dispersion of particulate matter from the coal is poor, and leading to pollution as a serious problem.

Taiyuan once became one of the world's most polluted cities, and it was hard for people to live in. Eventually the government formed certain bylaws to restrict the amount of pollution, and had taken action towards solving the pollution problem by bringing green into the city. October 1st, 2017, the municipal government announced the complete ban for coal usage in urban areas, and promoting the use of greener energies, including natural gas and electricity[4].

Tenure arrangements

China's forests have three categories of tenure: state-owned forest(国有林), collective forest(社有林), and freehold forest(自留山). State-owned forests are under the jurisdiction of national forest and land-management agencies[5], and after 1998, tenure belongs to the state forestry administration of the People's Republic of China[6]. Local governments have tenure rights to the collective forests that can be in either rural or urban areas[7]. Freehold forests are usually privately owned land, but it is different in China. Freehold forests(自留山) in Mandarin has a different meaning, it is the personal management of mountain forests. The areas of forest are distributed to be managed by private organizations or individuals, after the agricultural collectivization process[8]. The agricultural collectivization process was promoted by Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin in the Soviet Union on January 5th of 1930[9]. Although private stakeholders have management rights, the tenure rights still belong to either the central or the local government, depending on the situation. All the products and profit yielded from the freehold forests belong to the management organization.

In the context of Taiyuan, community forestry in an urban forestry setting falls under the category of collective forest tenure rights. The urban forest is not necessarily all forested land, but also includes parks, street trees, gardens, etc. The collective forest tenure rights belong to the municipal government of Taiyuan.

Administrative arrangements

The city of Taiyuan has its own municipal government, called the People's Municipal Government of Taiyuan(太原市人民政府)[10]. The municipal government is led by mayor Yanbo Geng(耿彦波), and vice-mayors Aiqin Wang, Qishan Zhang, Runsheng Ma, Jianhua Che, and Xiangyang Chen. The municipal government has 63 departments responsible for all the governance and management within the city. Within those 63 departments, 12 are either directly or indirectly related with environmental development of Taiyuan. 3 of the 12 departments with relationships with environmental developments are closely associated with the community urban forest of Taiyuan. The 3 departments are: Taiyuan Forestry Bureau(林业局), Taiyuan Garden Bureau(园林局), and Taiyuan Water Authority(水务局).

The Taiyuan Forestry Bureau is the main department out of the three departments for municipal forestry activities. Their duties include citywide forestry supervision, management, maintenance, governance, development, as well as municipal forest resource evaluation, ecological protection, wetland observation, research, and evaluation.

Other specific duties include[11]:

  • wild animals and plants resource protection and appropriate usage
  • limit, assign permits, and supervise all forestry practices
    • timber and lumber harvesting
    • timber and lumber transportation
  • organize, coordinate, direct, and supervise citywide desertification prevention, as well as sandstorm prediction and prevention
  • forest fire prevention
  • acting as city forest fire response team
  • acting as city forest law enforcement team
  • acting as city forest police and security team
  • forest park governance
  • return agricultural land to forest land
  • appropriately conduct central government orders

Government Policies

Government policies that affect Taiyuan's community urban forestry scene come from two levels of government, the central government and the municipal government. The central government gives broad directions for development, and the main targets to be reached by a certain deadline. The municipal government dissects the policies and applies them to Taiyuan, developing a plan that will suit Taiyuan's situation. Aside from completing the targets from the central government, the municipal government develops its own goals and targets, to further develop and enhance the environment for better living standards.

Central Government Policies

President Xi Jinping put forward the statement “while we want gold and silver mountains, we also want lucid waters and lush mountains, lucid waters and lush mountains are our gold and silver mountains, and are invaluable assets”. Breaking through from the old thoughts of having to sacrifice the environment for economic development, environmental protection and development will drive economic development[12].

  • Changing the ways of growing the economy, having to abandon low energy efficiency production methods
  • Promote energy conservation, create new consumption ways, realize low carbon development
  • Strengthen government leadership, protect the environment, achieve sustainable development
  • “Thriving ecology leads to a thriving culture, dying ecology leads to a dying culture”

Taiyuan Municipal Government Policies

Taiyuan's mayor, Yanbo Geng, called a television and telephone meeting with the city's governing board and associated officials on December 6th, 2017, and discussed the implementation of the River Chief System(河长制). The meeting was held with the use of television and telephone to reduce long meeting times, in effort to have short and productive meetings. The River Chief System focuses on Taiyuan's "mother river" Fen River, the city's forest growth, and control and limitation of emissions. It includes discovering and managing new water sources, controlling citywide water usage, limiting pollution into the Fen River, to provide economic growth and higher living standards for the rural areas of Taiyuan, and transforming the countryside to have better qualities of every aspect.

Limitations and controlling standards were set to combat all pollution and resource waste, as well as to have a fast growing pollution combating system, and working towards meeting the following targets and goals[13]:

  • by March 31st, 2018, Taiyuan's PM 2.5 index will be reduced by 25%
  • heavy pollution days to be reduced by 20%
  • control messiness
  • control garbage
  • control water pollution
  • control agricultural waste and pollution

Affected Stakeholders

Affected stakeholder means the groups of people, organizations, or parties that either have their interests or benefits interrupted, or the effect of a project or movement brings change to their daily living patterns. In the case of Taiyuan, and its River Chief System combined with the central government environmental development policies, the following groups can be considered to be affected stakeholders:

  • Local residents
  • Related and responsible government departments
  • The coal industry and its businesses
  • Drivers of automobiles that use gas as fuel
  • Farmers and agricultural workers

Local Residents

The biggest impacted group of a greener, cleaner, better environment would be the residents of the city. A cleaner Taiyuan city, a Taiyuan city that is not always covered in smog, a Taiyuan city that can have its title as one of the world's most polluted city removed, certainly benefits every resident by raising their standard of living. A better environment will lead to better health, which brings many benefits into a person's life. A healthy body means being able to spend more time at work, thus increasing income. A healthy body means going to the hospital less often, thus reducing medical bills and stress levels. A healthy body leads to more happiness, reduced stress levels, which in cycle returns back to promoting a healthy body and healthy mind.

Non-communicable diseases have replaced communicable diseases as the number one factor in resulting deaths around the world, especially in the Global North. Non-communicable diseases are illnesses such as cancer, type-2 diabetes, lower respiratory issues, and mental illnesses, and they have replaced communicable diseases such as malaria as a more serious health issue. Non-communicable diseases have been one of the most important targets to look at when practicing urban forestry, as many studies have shown that high standard urban forests can have a significant effect on preventing and improving patient's conditions from non-communicable diseases, especially mental illnesses. Although there has been no concrete evidence that the urban forest can cure non-communicable diseases, it has been widely agreed upon of its positive impacts.

Related and Responsible Government Departments

One might think that government departments can only be interested stakeholders, as they will receive their paycheck from the government's financial department, but in China, meeting set targets is important. As a developing country, if set targets were not met, China would not have seen such fast paced development during recent years.

The Coal Industry and its Businesses

Taiyuan used be one of the biggest coal industries in China, and the country relied upon its coal production to fulfill the energy needs. With the promoted policy of having zero coal in the city, the coal industry will be completely eliminated. Although previously the industry has already seen dramatic decreases in economic profit, there were some businesses still surviving, but the majority of people involved in the industry had already switched to other occupations, industries, and markets, with the housing market being the most popular.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are interested stakeholders, outside the community, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power


A discussion of the aims and intentions of the community forestry project and your assessment of relative successes or failures. You should also include a discussion of critical issues or conflicts in this community and how they are being managed


Your assessment of the relative power of each group of social actors, and how that power is being used


Your recommendations about this community forestry project


  1. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 太原(山西省省会)
  2. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 太原(山西省省会)
  3. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 太原(山西省省会)
  4. Wu, B. (2017, October 13). Xin Hua Net. Retrieved from 一道“禁煤令”,重塑“太原蓝”
  5. Menzies, N. K. (2007). Naidu Village, Yunnan Province, China. In N. K. Menzies, Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber (p. 19). New York: Columbia University Press.
  6. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 中华人民共和国国家林业局
  7. Menzies, N. K. (2007). Naidu Village, Yunnan Province, China. In N. K. Menzies, Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber (p. 19). New York: Columbia University Press.
  8. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 自留山
  9. 百度. (2017). 百度百科. Retrieved from 农业集体化
  10. 太原市人民政府,太原市人民政府办公厅. (2017). 中国 太原. Retrieved from 中国 太原
  11. 太原市人民政府. (2013, September 27). 中国 太原. Retrieved from 机构职能 林业局
  12. Zhang, X. (2016, January 22). Actively Practice the idea of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets". Retrieved from China Environmental News Network
  13. 太原市人民政府. (2017, December 7). 中国 太原. Retrieved from 政务要闻

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Course:FRST270.