China has adopted a long-term campaign against poverty. In recent decades, there is an increasing understanding that ecological poverty alleviation can meet the dual goals of environmental protection and rural poverty reduction. China is pivoting towards forestry-based poverty reduction in the severely poverty-stricken areas. However, several key factors remain elusive, including the extent to which the poor people benefit from forestry programs, whether they are satisfied with the policies and whether the policies are effective for poverty alleviation. Based on data collected through a questionnaire survey of 79 households in the prefectures of Nujiang and Aba, southwestern China, the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) approach was used to examine the effectiveness of the forestry-based poverty alleviation policy. The results showed that four poverty alleviation pathways, including industry, employment, micro-finance and pairing assistance in villages, had obviously increased the incomes of the filing poor households and solved the problem of “Two Worries-free and Three Guarantees”. The poor were satisfied with the forestry-based ecological poverty alleviation policies and these policies had good effects in fighting against poverty. However, there are still some shortcomings, such as a lack of active participation, imperfect targeted identification, lack of funds and limited sources of funds during the policy implementation. Our results highlight the importance of the forestry industry and the public welfare position in the alleviation of poverty in the poverty-stricken areas. Synergies between ecological protection and poverty reduction are possible through sound forestry-based policies. This article recommends five policies to simultaneously realize the potential of poverty alleviation and environment protection through forestry development.
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