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ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC DYNAMICS OF THE SHUNDE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM UNDER CHINA'S SMALL CITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
LU, H. AND D. E. CAMPBELL. ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC DYNAMICS OF THE SHUNDE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM UNDER CHINA'S SMALL CITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 90(8):2589-2600, (2009).
The impact of this article is difficult to predict. The impact factor of the Journal of Environmental Management is 1.45, which is good for a trade journal on this subject. It is possible that this article will have regional and perhaps national significance in China, since it considers the relative efficacy of a national policy of the Chinese government in the Guangdong Province. This paper may also have significance for emergy researchers, because it puts forward two new emergy indices the Emergy Productivity Ratio (EPR), to estimate the relative efficiency of local production and the LSR or local support ratio that indicates the contributions of local productivity to support the local system. Finally, this paper examines the effect of monetizing ecosystem services beyond the yield of agricultural products on the local and national system with the conclusion that complete monetization of ecosystem services would make the local agricultural systems worse off than they are at present. This result was primarily due to the massive inflation that is introduced into the national system as consequence of complete monetization of the work of the environment. This result alone should be highly significant and if taken to heart, it may bring about broader research under current EPA programs to assess the contributions of the environment to economies.
The development of small cities has been adopted as the main strategy to make full use of extra labor in the rural areas of China. The ecological and economic consequences of this development will affect over 100 million people and change the organization of agricultural systems in China. In this study, the ecological and economic dynamics of the development of the agricultural system of Shunde, a small city in Guangdong Province, were examined from 1978 to 2000. The Shunde agricultural system was examined from both biophysical or donor-based and human utility or receiver-based perspectives, using emergy and economic methods, respectively. After 22 years of urbanization, the Shunde agricultural system was still able to fill 96% of the local demand for agricultural products using only 6% of its total yield compared to using 14% of the total yield in 1978. Aquaculture developed quickly during the study period following a decrease in grain production. In 2000, the production of fish, pork, and vegetables accounted for 92% of the total emergy output of the system. Over 94% of these agricultural products were exported directly; however, the emergy buying power of the money received in exchange was lower than the emergy contained in the products exported. The excess emergy exported is the basis for a high quality diet delivered to city dwellers at a relatively low price. In the 1980s, the productivity of both land and labor increased; but after 1992, the productivity of labor decreased, causing the efficiency of the whole agricultural system to decrease. We recommend that processing plants be established for the main agricultural products of Shunde to decrease the emergy loss in trading and to increase employment. The effect of including monetized ecosystem services in the balance between the emergy delivered in agricultural products and the emergy buying power of the money received was to decrease the emergy gained by the Shunde agricultural system.