This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .
State-owned forest enterprises (SOFEs) in northeast China and Inner Mongolia play important roles both in timber production and in the maintenance of ecological security. However, since the late 1970s, forest resource and economic crises have seriously restricted these functions. Based on a theoretical and an empirical analysis of the harvest and investment behavior of the SOFEs, we examined the effects of forest policies and the socioeconomic conditions on the behavioral choices of the SOFEs. Both the extent to which SOFE supervising authorities emphasized improvement of forest resources in their annual evaluations and the increases in expenses necessary to manage SOFEs had significant impacts on harvest and investment decisions as well as development of forest resources. Promoting the management and utilization of non-timber resources, as well as reforms to increase the efficiency of forest protection and management, have reduced timber harvests as intended, which in turn has increased investment and improved forest resources. The effects have been relatively small, however. In contrast, reforms aimed at timber harvest and afforestation activities actually contributed toincreasing the timber harvest, which affected the development of the forest resources negatively.