Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Ali, Saleem


ABSTRACT This dissertation examines the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of mining and tourism industries in China with a goal of understanding whether or not these two sectors are mutually compatible in achieving sustainable developme nt. Yunnan, a province in southwest China was selected as the study area because of its high potential for growth in both sectors. A macro-level Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis and a case study were employed to understand patterns of change and linkages. Paper 1 addresses the spatial patterns of mining and tourism activities by a GIS analysis. Spatial cluster analysis of major tourism attractions and mining sites concludes that 1) mining sites tend to be clustered, whereas locations of tourism attractions do not exhibit any significant evidence of aggregation. 2) Mining and tourism sites tend to cluster at the scale of 25 kilometers to 45 kilometers. However, 3) mining/tourism sites relatively far away from each other attain more economic income. Incorporating the social context and development history of the study area, the results imply that although mining activities may have some negative impact on tourism attractions making those nearby a mining site earn less income; some factors tie the two industries together such as investing capacity of and policy support from local government. Paper 2 considers the environmental health and socioeconomic status of the areas where mining or tourism activities cluster. Statistical analysis on prefecture level and county level detects no significant difference between areas of mining and tourism in terms of economic status (GDP and poverty rate) and social development (ratio of researchers, agricultural technicians, teachers and doctors, and access to pipe water, major roads and telephone). For environmental indicators, the air pollution and soil erosion index perform better in tourism areas than mining areas, while other variables including forestry coverage, water quality and an overall ecological health index detect little difference between mining and tourism areas. The paper concludes that sector difference in economic and environmental performances may be over-emphasized. How mining and tourism contribute to or impact the sustainability of regional development needs to be further studied within the local context. Paper 3 develops a case study of a Tibet village called Jisha in northwest Yunnan to explore management as a factor influencing tourism impacts on environment and local economic productivity. Jisha village experiences two types of tourism development. A community based small-scale tourism development project, initiated by a local nongovernment organization, aims to partner with Jisha residents to build a Tibetan style hostel which will bring tourism income to the villagers. An external company plans to construct a hotel, golf course and chair- lift by making a large investment in the community. Although some aspects of this project are likely to benefit the local community better than others, local residents are resisting all development efforts. Results of the ethnographic study show organization- led projects work better in benefiting local people and conserving environment than corporation businesses. However, such ventures may not have the multiplier effect on the local economy as external corporate businesses because of the moderate size of the investment.