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Participatory Communication and Cultural Continuity Perspectives Regarding Ecological and Environmental Migration (EEM) in China: A Case Study in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Xin Wang's project examines the the increasingly important effects ecological and environmental migration has on the national and regional levels in the past decade.

January 15, 2014


Ecological and environmental migration (EEM), by definition, is either the intentional removal of polluting sources from densely populated areas or the transfer of people out of ecologically fragile areas due to the deterioration of the natural environment in order to coordinate the relationship between human beings and nature. The impact of such migration, whether voluntary or government-ordered, includes social, economic, political, cultural and psychological considerations.

The study of EEM is relatively new and underdeveloped compared to other areas of migration and mobility research. The completed and ongoing scholarly work mainly concentrates on establishing various potential linkages between ecological and socioeconomic systems that influence migration. Rarely do existing studies discuss this topic from a communication perspective.

In essence, however, migration is a socially constructed activity in which people are fundamentally engaged in a process of maintaining or reshaping interpersonal relationships as well as individual and collective identities in the society. Such a process resonates in communication inquiry, by being characterized as two-directional, ubiquitous and continuous. In this light, environmental decision-making and policy-implementation call for effective and meaningful communication which is a key component of community sustainability. Incorporating citizen voices in decisions pertaining to public well-being has clearly been observed in natural-resource management for over forty years in terms of academic studies (Wellman & Tipple, 1990).

In China, EEM has become a focus of attention since 2000, especially in the western areas where ecological deterioration problems, including water loss and soil erosion, desertification, grassland degradation, etc., become increasingly striking. In 2002, residents in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve were required to migrate outside to protect wild animals. At the end of the same year, the State Council promulgated the “Grain for Green Ordinance,” which, for the first time, clearly stated the implementation of ecological migration. In 2005, more than 300 Tibetan herding families from San Jiang Yuan----Qinghai’s “Three Rivers Source” area, which contains the headstreams of the Yangtze, Mekong and Yellow River----were required to relocate to the southern edge of city Golmud. The original purpose of migration was to protect the area’s delicate ecological balance. Unfortunately, the government’s hierarchical and autonomous decision-making, unilateral and downward flow of information alienated the public. The voice of the ordinary people involved in this situation was, unfortunately, rarely sought. Furthermore, the ecological migration policy forced these herdsmen, who have preserved the traditional lifestyle and unique customs that have enabled them to live in harmony with nature for generations, to change their way of living. Originally self-sufficient, these herdsmen became dispossessed of their property and struggled to lead a meager material life in the urban setting. Despite such sacrifices, this vulnerable group has been given little concern from local governments, the media and NGOs than would be expected.

Background of Environmental and Ecological Migration in China

From the rise of the Qin Dynasty (221- 206 BC) to the People’s Republic of China today, migration has occurred in various forms driven by a range of factors including territory’s acquisition, ethnic groups distribution, and the characteristics of the ecological environment. As a result of the influx of Han migrants into West China, a huge number of remote regions were gradually converted to agricultural use and “Hanified”, and were subsequently transformed into territories that were inseparable from the rest of the nation. However, agriculture in areas unsuited for cultivation has also led to serious environmental problems such as soil degradation, desertification, and the drying up of rivers. Since 1990, the need to protect forests and other natural resources has been recognized by governments.   

The concept of EEM in China was adopted as a coping strategy to resolve the problems of a deteriorating ecological environment, the main causes of which are the growth in the population of herders, and overgrazing due to increasing numbers of livestock (Ren et al. 1993). Foreseeing significant environmental impact in the massive infrastructure development program, the Chinese government highly publicized environmental and ecological preservation in its campaign to open up West China. Farmland conversion to forest and grassland is the focus of considerable attention. Article 54 in China’s State Council Decree (No. 367) states that in the process of discontinuing cultivation for forest restoration, the government shall encourage ecological migration and provide assistance for the livelihood and productivity of farming households that participate in EEM (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Guowuyuan 2002). Since 1986, EEM, a model that combines immigration placement with poverty alleviation and development in western rural areas, became widely accepted by Chinese governments at central and local levels elsewhere in China (Li Ning et al. 2003).
Among all practices of EEM in China, the nation’s largest nature reserve in Qinghai-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture initiated in August 2000, which was named “Three-River Headwater Nature Reserve” (San Jiang Yuan Ziran Baohuqu, TRH hereinafter) was of special significance because of its unique and important location. Since 2004, more than 8,000 households, or 40,000 Tibetans nomadic pastoralist, who have lived in the area for hundreds of years in a sustainable manner, have been forced to abandon their lifestyle and to relocate to urban areas to restore the ecology of the grasslands. The Ecological Migration Program (EMP) in the TRH region is deemed as the country’s largest EEM project.

Tibet is a high plateau whose capital Llasa sits at higher than 11,000 feet, and is characterized by high-altitude ecosystems. The Qing government consolidated its rule over Tibet in the 18th century and incorporated parts of Tibet into its administrative structure as a part of Qinghai province. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, widely recognized as “the reservoir at the top of the world” and “the water tower of Asia”, is becoming an ever more crucial strategic territory in terms of climate and conflict. It is the source of most of Asia’s major rivers as its glacial melt feeds Asia’s major rivers, including the Yangtze, the Yellow River, the Amu Darya, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Irrawaddy, the Salween and the Mekong. As historian Lee Feigon noted: “The confluence of all these rivers in one place means that the runoff from the mountains of Tibet affects the vegetation and agriculture of one of the most fertile and populated area of the world, home to half the human race. Even minor ecological change in Tibet can therefore have a major impact on vast portions of humanity (Lee Feigon, Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows, Chicago: IL: Ivan R. Dee, Inc., 1996:8).

Unfortunately, as global temperature rises, Tibet’s glaciers are melting and grassland permafrost is thawing at an alarming rate. A recent investigation conducted by the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) revealed that about 90% of the glaciers on Tibetan plateau are shrinking (1). It is commonly estimated that these changes could trigger cascading damage to ecosystems and livelihoods, threatening food and water security, eroding critical habitats and biodiversity, and multiplying hydrological disaster risks to the millions living downstream in China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Vietnam and other countries that are dependent on the rivers for their water supply (Xu et al. 2009; Morton 2008). And at least 500 million people in Asia and 250 million people in China are at risk from declining glacial flows on that plateau (Rajendrea K. Pachautri, chairman of the IPCC, in an interview with Circle of Blue, May 8, 2008).

Besides the factor of climate change, market forces and the growth of an urban population have created a demand for increased energy since the economic reforms in 1980s, which, too, is driving environmental change on the Tibetan plateau. Without coal or other fossil fuels, the only other option for energy production is to build dams for hydroelectricity. However, the construction of dams and a navigation channel along the upper reaches of the Mekong changes the rivers’ natural flood-drought cycle, blocks the transport of sediment, and threatens the complex ecosystem and livelihoods.

Problems in Tanggula Mountain Chang Jiang River Migration Village

From the migrants’ point of view, a variety of problems have arisen during this process in the TRH Region, home to around 300,000 Tibetan pastoralists who have adapted their way of life over generations and learned to live successfully in the harsh environment. Unsettled problems include, but are not limited to, social adaptability, inheritance of ethnic cultures, community reorganization, production and lifestyle, ecological environment changes, land disputes, and social security. Especially, with the acceleration of industrialization and urbanization as well as the reduction of reserve land resources, a tense people vs. land relationship increasingly affects the effectiveness of migration development policy.

In July 2013, I conducted a field study in Tang Gu La Shan Chang Jiang River Migration Village in suburban Golmud, migrants to which came from the Tuotuo River area, which is the source of the Yangtze River originating from the glaciers of the Jianggendiru Snow Mountains (with nearly 5,500 meters of altitude) located at the southwestern side of the highest Geladandong Peak in the Tanggula Mountain Range, which is located in the central part of the Nagqu prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Based on data collected from individual and group interviews with more than 40 migrated Tibetans, I observe the following problems in this EEM case.

First, migrants have to deal with a bewildering array of socioeconomic, cultural, and political systems in addition to environmental problems. They are often challenged by many forms of internal conflicts embracing a range of situations from latent tensions that characterize everyday life to violent encounters or disputes. Tibetan herdsmen have developed essentially the similar lifestyle and values and established a relatively strong identity and sense of belonging in their original grasslands. Given that their language, lifestyle, customs, and religious beliefs are different from those of the Han people living in urban places, migration not only places these people and their culture involuntarily into an unknown and strange social environment, but also gives rise to cultural conflicts such as xenophobic responses to their relocation. The mismatch between traditional productions and the fast-paced modern society as well as imbalance caused by the ups and downs in the migration process become increasingly pronounced. In addition, according to the research of Morrow-Jones (1991), forced migration increases mental and physical trauma compared to voluntary migration. Individuals forced to move from disasters have higher levels of stress than other movers due to the loss of homes, family, friends, and employment. Accordingly, these uncertainties compromise the integration of the migrants into their new community.      

Second, the lack of reciprocity, participation and transparency in communication causes Tibetan migrants to feel confused, helpless, and even betrayed. For one thing, substantial misalignment in EEM policies exists before and after migration. For example, before migration, they were told by local officials that electricity, water, accommodation, medical insurance and other public services were free of charge. However, after migration, they actually paid all these fees out of their savings or governmental subsidies. For another, participatory communication characterized by dialogue, deliberation, and learning is extremely scarce in the EMM process. As Cox delineates, public participation is supposed to embody the right to know (transparency), the right to comment (direct participation), and the right of standing (accountability) (Cox, 2006: 156). Communication activities should provide a voice for the weakest stakeholders, who are often the rural, marginalized, and poor. But in actuality, Tibetan migrants have very limited, if any, channels to access relevant information or to influence environmental decisions. The village committee members are elected by Tibetans themselves, the seeming democracy conceals nepotism and advantage of the privileged power under the table. As Uda, a Tibetan lady with two children, told me: “The head of the village was selected because he has more relatives than other candidates. You know, each has one vote, so whoever has more relatives has more votes in the election.” When migrants have difficulties, they rarely turn to the local administration. “We did report some problems, but the village officials either wouldn’t listen, or were unable to help us. Even when they presented the problems to a higher government, it didn’t make too much difference.” In general, true communication implies strong linkages. Regularly updated communication grounded on reciprocity, openness, transparency and participation are important for harmonious relationships. However, one-dimensional and insincere communication usually results in disappointment and distrust.

Third, inequalities can be worsened at the local level in terms of receiving and non-receiving subsidies and at the national level between the economic groups with privileged access to the financial aid and the majority with precarious and no access to formal financial services. A social vulnerability framework explains how certain populations are more vulnerable to environmental migration. Economic assets (i.e. homeownership, financial assets, insurance) and social status (i.e. political power, marginalization, minority status, education, gender, age) affect vulnerability of the affected migrants (Fothergill and Peek 2004; Norris, Friedman, Watson, Byrne, Diaz, and Kaniasty 2002; Phillips, Thomas, Fothergill, and Blinn-Pike 2010). Environmental migration is more likely to become permanent for vulnerable populations. Even with equivalent damage, the wealthy and privileged with higher socioeconomic status can more easily access financial resources to rebuild and rebound in the complicated disaster aid process; whereas the poor have little, if anything, to protect them and thus are much more susceptible to both natural and man-made disasters (Finch et al. 2010).

Fourth, a considerable gap exists between the demands for migrants livelihood and the subsidies government provides. The promised duration of subsidies is too short for degraded ecosystems to fully recover or for migrants to obtain sufficient living skills. The vast majority of migrants live on meager and one-size-fits-all governmental subsidies which are supposed to be 500RBM (approximately 82 U.S. Dollars) per family per month regardless of the number of family members. Even so, subsidies are distributed inconsistently, unevenly and unequally, but rather periodically, randomly and often affected by corruption. According to EEM policy, migrants should receive the money monthly, but in actuality the frequency for them to get the money was once every two to four months, and the amount they obtained was far less than promised by governments. For example, one family only got 600 RMB (approximately 98 U.S. Dollars) for two months, because “officials deducted a lot of fees from it, such as electricity, water, garbage, etc. We are not quite sure about the items; they gave us this much, and we had to take it.” And the subsidies, which were promised to provide for 10 years straight, only reached them in the first 6 years and then ceased in 2010 without giving any formal or convincing explanations in this regard.

Fifth, the EMP changed the income structure of numerous former herdsmen by making them shift from grazing to other activities or unemployment. They used to make a living by farming pasture. After migration, they lost their grassland and had to sell out livestock. In Tang Gu La Shan Chang Jiang River Migration Village, 78% of migrants have no stable financial income resources, only a few young people find temporary jobs in construction or transportation  in Golmud city with measly salary. Most herdsmen do not possess working skills, and the government has provided very limited and short-term (two weeks or three weeks long) training with regard to welding, soldering, clothing-making, etc.. Although trainees were endowed with diplomas, for the lack of indispensable social networks, insider information, as well as tacit discriminative rules in many working places, biases and prejudices held by many Han Chinese toward Tibetans, they still cannot find jobs in cities. On the other hand, a large number of surplus laborers have been generated during the influx of migrants into the cities, which increases the demand for services, infrastructure, and resources and leads to resentment and hostility between migrants and local inhabitants. Moreover, the emergence of compassion fade or “THP fatigue”, which in this case means urban residents’ compassion shown to Tibetans decreases as the number of migrants in need of aid increases, identifiability of the them decreases, and the helping behavior or support shrinks, poses a significant challenge to personal and collective capacity to respond effectively to the many environmental problems (Slovic, 2007). With the lapse of time, Tibetan migrants were not considered as victims, but as competitors for jobs, social services, and other amenities. he observed moderation effect of environmental identity further indicates that compassion fade may present a significant psychological barrier to building broad public support for addressing these problems. Our results highlight the importance of bringing findings from the field of judgment and decision making to bear on pressing societal issues.

Sixth, Tibetans’ social adjustment and adaptation to new urban lifestyle are more difficult than thought to be. Most herdsmen feel hard to get accustomed to dietary pattern in cities, since they used to consume more meat, which came directly from the flocks and herds they raised. But in Golmud city, the price of meat in cities is too high for them to afford, not to mention they have to commute to the city about 15 miles away to buy fresher and cheaper meat, vegetables and other foods by the only bus available nearby the village. There are no open markets in the villages except for 3 small grocery stores run by Han people, yet most Tibetans are unwilling to go shopping there because, according to their feedback, “things there are very expensive, and quality is low”. In spare time, Tibetan migrants rarely go to city to socialize because of the high consumption level, language barriers, and no bonds with Han people. Migrated Tibetans were separated with the city residents; they seem to live in two different worlds.         

More importantly, the essence of environmental problems is cultural. The shared undertone of the reason why many ethnic minority inhabitants of the west such as Tibetan herdsmen have become eco-migrants is that their culture is considered as heterogeneous and backward, uncivilized, and even barbaric, whilst Han Chinese as universal, sophisticated and advanced. This philosophy would claim that in regard to subsistence patterns, agriculture is more advanced than raising livestock; in living patterns, a fixed residence is more advanced than a mobile tent; and in living environments, urban is more advanced than rural. This way of thinking is accepted as axiomatic among many Han Chinese. Ecological conservation is realized through the complete eradication of the “heterogeneous presence”. The foundations of those cultures were marginalized and objectified through the ideas of social evolutionism.

However, obliging the diversity of subsistence patterns and lifestyle in a single direction by “homogenizing” them is not scientifically rational. After all, these nomads and pastoralists have an innate interest and a proven capacity in maintaining the integrity of their local ecosystem. Through experience, practices and oral teachings over generations, they have preserved a vast body of indigenous knowledge about alpine rangeland ecosystem. Traditional nomadic herding including rotating between different grazing lands, in fact, has an inherently sustainable component: it can reduce the stress on grasslands, and contribute to the conservation of ecological systems. In the nomadic culture, the most precious resources are water and grass, followed by livestock. This culture harmonizes humans and nature as one and thus represents an elevated state to which human beings should aspire (Hanhaisha, 2004). Furthermore, a large number of herders are devout followers of Tibetan Buddhism, from their point of view, human, animals, vegetables and mineral realm are merged, sharing similar nature. They believe that rocks have human characters, regard the life of wild animals as precious as that of humans, and they relate to forests with awe and reverence. This way of life can be considered an extension of the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of nature.

As Chandler and Lalonde (1998) puts it, cultural continuity, measured by a suite of factors including availability of culturally relevant and accessible health programs, education programs, local governance, and community centers, is a very important feature that government, with communities, can strive to develop well. Success in this area alone will help lead to happier and healthier communities, while failure will pave the way to falling health indices, increased societal confusion, and ultimately to greater financial burden on the entire nation.

Often the EM sites are the Chinese minority ethnic regions with invaluable cultural heritage. Unfortunately, faced with government-forced EEM and top-down implementation of policies, most indigenous people or ethnic minorities have little power of discourse to choose the terms on which they wish to engage (Foggin, 2008). The reduction and disappearance of the heterogeneous practice of livestock raising and Tibetan herders signifies the conformity to the standards of “homogenization”.

Work to date suggests that migration alone does not solve the main cause of the problem, as degraded regions are not emptied sufficiently to allow environmental recovery or poverty alleviation, and in most cases continue their inexorable decline. EEM policy remains an untested social experiment at enormous scale—with potential devastating generational social, cultural, and possibly environmental consequences. Given that EEM may have a net negative effect on the ecosystem as a whole, some scholars propose that it should be used not as a strategic policy, but a supplementary measure (Xu Honggang 2001: 25).

Stakeholder Participatory Communication Mechanism

Ideally, participation is a process where individuals, groups and organizations choose to take an active role in making decisions that affect them (Wandersman, 1981; Wilcox, 2003; Rowe et al., 2004). This definition focuses on stakeholders who are affected by or can affect a decision, rather than broader public participation. The participation is rarely a simple process of pooling individual labors and resources but is the process through which individual effort is synergized to yield effective and efficient outputs (Reed 2008; Slater et al. 2006). Evaluation criteria with stakeholders are most frequently cited as ‘‘using the best available scientific information, having a genuine influence on decisions, promoting communication and learning, and treating all citizens equally’’ (Chase et al., 2004, p. 635). In this light, stakeholder participatory communication encourages negotiation of shared meanings and interpretations; emphasizes communication interaction as a part of policy-making, rather than merely ‘‘inform and educate’’ or ‘‘command and control’’ approaches (Walker, 2004); welcomes engagement of scientific pluralism ‘‘with the aim of creating new perspectives rather than transferring pre-packaged solutions’’ (Ramirez & Quarry, 2004, p. 13); fosters a community-based platforms where involved stakeholders, as dynamic actors, actively, meaningfully and innovatively “participate in the process of social change and in control of the communication tools and contents’’ (Dragon, 2001).

However, in practical reality, a series of concerns and fears about participatory mechanism from authorities’ perspectives emerge as follows: the potential encouragement of mobilizing antagonistic interests; costly and time-consuming process that can delay schedules; the abuse of the participatory power by special interests; the low representativeness of participants; the undermining of authorities; the exposure of incompetence on the part of elected officials to the public; the citizens’ ignorance and lack of capability in dealing with complex and technical issues; the difficulty in weighing various forms of public input in making a decision; the possible loss of control over the process due to lack of confidence in process dynamics; the mindset of professional elitism and techno-arrogance; the lack of communicative skills to interact effectively with diverse public; the lack of managerial interest to design or engage nontraditional processes; the perception that the tactics and the styles of citizen groups are overdramatized, unjustified and unsound, etc.

Alternative Approaches to EEM

Due to the expected impacts of relocation and resettlement on such a large number of people, development and conservation agendas should be more carefully integrated in the future. There is a rapidly growing body of literature and practice on new models of policy-making that are designed to achieve the goal of addressing multifaceted social problems effectively, thereby helping to reverse the decline in public confidence in the ability of governments to actually create public value. One of the most radical of these innovations is variously known as “joined-up government”, “horizontal management”, “key cross-government strategies”, and other labels with the purpose to make government more responsive to citizen needs and expectations. This mode entails three separate tasks: improving the coordination of government policies across government departments, improving the coordination of different levels of government and bringing government and citizens together in policy development, through deliberation, and policy implementation (Ian Peach, Managing Complexity: The Lessons of Horizontal Policy-Making in the Provinces, 2004).

In the U.S., Disaster case management addresses short- and long-term recovery needs. Populations displaced from federally-declared disasters receive up to 18 months of housing assistance or $26,200 (adjusted yearly for inflation), whichever limit they reach first. These populations are also offered 26 weeks of disaster unemployment insurance and financial support for healthcare and other expenses under the Other Needs Assistance Program. Since assistance of such is not streamlined, case management helps populations more smoothly maneuver the complicated assistance structure. Not only providing direct assistance, central or local governments also make referrals to organizations that have agreed to meet specific client needs, contract with other organizations, or otherwise arrange for individuals and families to receive needed services and resources (GAO 2009a: 4).

In North Canada, a co-management agreement between local people and national parks, with varying levels of shared responsibilities ranging from simple participation to more autonomous forms of governance and leadership, has been proved to be an effective form of partnership. Aboriginal peoples have entered into cooperative environmental resource management agreements with provincial, territorial, and federal governments.These agreements, for the most part, can be divided into three categories: land claims-based agreements, conflict- or crises-based co-management agreements, and multi-stakeholder environmental management agreements. Take multi-stakeholder environmental management agreements as an example, northern Aboriginal peoples and their representative governments are sometimes signatories to multi-stakeholder environmental agreements that arise in the context of growing general public concern over the effects of mining and other industrial developments on important species or habitats. Often these agreements create boards with varying levels of authority that involve Aboriginal, public, industry, government, and NGO representatives (2). Such an approach has helped achieve the connected goals of sustainability and conservation.

More alternative approaches that allow productive and efficient stakeholder participation should be further researched; and more accessible forms of service provision should be developed, both for herders still living in grassland areas and for those migrated herders now living in new towns. Also important will be the strategy of establishing the new livelihoods on the basis of traditional products, skills and technology, allowing the people to continue with known practices particularly for the initial period of adjustment.

Conclusions and Discussions

Environmental problems are typically complex, unpredictable, and multi-dimensional with far-ranging effect on different actors and agencies. Unilateral, top-down, predetermined decision-making mechanism, a lack of monitoring, highly centralized governance do harm to the environment. Participation in environmental decision-making, by contrast, is resilient to ever-changing circumstances, and embraces a diversity of knowledge and values. It is also regarded as a democratic right, which is manifested by a push from the bottom and helps achieve fair and equitable development. Árnason points out that the central question that remains to be discussed in viewing nature or environmental values is their implications for environmental policy. “These are crucial questions because environmental policy – to be effective and just - must be informed about all the relevant facts, whether natural or social, concerning the causes and effects of environmental problems” (Árnason, 2005: 39). Consistent with the increased emphasis that agencies and stakeholders have placed on collaborative decision-making, Walker and Daniels (2004) stress that collaborative citizen engagement involves both dialogue and deliberation, with the latter building on the former. Dialogue among stakeholders alone does not automatically yield wise decisions; it essentially fosters learning, which generates shared understanding, which, in turn, supports deliberation leading to discussions of feasibility, implementation, monitoring, and adaptation. All these components render sound environmental decisions feasible (Daniels & Walker, 2001).

By 2050 when human population is projected to peak, the majority of the population will live in urban areas with crushing environmental footprints. Many of these cities are located in areas prone to sea-level rise, while people remaining in rural areas may struggle with increasingly frequent and violent hazards like flooding or drought, or with more gradual but similarly intense changes in regional climates that make livelihoods much more difficult. Faced with an unprecedented scale of environmental change, environmentally induced migration has the potential to become a phenomenon of paramount scale and scope. Its effects on the global economy, international development, and national budgets could be profound, with significant implications for almost all dimensions of human security, in addition to political and state security. Environmental change does not undermine human security in isolation of broader factors such as poverty, state support to communities, access to economic opportunities, effectiveness of decision-making processes, and the extent of social cohesion within and surrounding vulnerable groups.

The notion of sustainability, which aims at integrating into policy-making  societal, economic, environmental and cultural aspects, raises the question of how nature itself is conceived and consequently of the cultural values that condition a society’s relationship to nature. Important variants in attitudes to ecological sustainability demonstrate the need for a culturally diversified approach to issues of culture, environment and development, as well as for an analysis of mechanisms that perpetuate views or actions beneficial or harmful to the environment” (UNESCO 1996: 38). Effective participatory communication is believed in this case to represent as diverse standpoints and position, to reflect as much intercultural ethical standards, to promote as positive the representation of engagement, and to include perspectives and actors within Tibetans’ communities as possible.

As for the effectiveness of ecological migration, many questions are worth further studying. For example, how to establish a set of scientific assessment system to evaluate EEM’s economic effectiveness in terms of all levels of satisfaction in every aspect of life, not only the economic component in practice? Is it really acceptable to classify traditional nomadic herders, who practically had no form of cash-based income, as poor? Moreover, attention is supposed to be paid to the accumulated wisdom of the people who have coexisted with nature in this area for many generations have served to protect the forests. In different living environments, numerous traditional cultures of the various ethnic groups, their perceptions of nature, and the different belief systems should be treated in principle as equal. Cultural diversity is an integral part of the richness of human experience, and it is also a pivotal factor in the relationship of humans to nature. Culture is a product of culture itself, rather than a completion to nature. “Nature is only a phenomenon created by an a priori synthesis of impressions with the categories of the intellect. In this concept of nature, culture becomes an autonomous sphere in which we create values.” (Jaroszynski 2007: 219). Environment represents the culturally mediated idea of nature, the intersection between nature and culture, nature itself seen through the lens of culture. Environmental policy also carries in itself the point of view of mankind (whether in, around, or as a part of it). In this sense, respect for the various ways in that people have developed different cultures, which are the “sum total of ways of living including behavioral norms, linguistic expressions, styles of communications, patterns of thinking, and beliefs and values of a group large enough to be self-sustaining transmitted over the course of generations“ (Jandt 2004: 7), when proposing and implem

enting environmental policies enhances prospect of the sustainable and human-oriented development.

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