Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2012, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (2): 371-381.doi: 10.1007/s11442-012-0933-2

• Historical Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Agricultural reclamations in Xiliao River Valley, China since the Holocene

HAN Maoli, ZHAO Yuhui, ZHANG Dan   

  1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2011-10-10 Revised:2011-11-12 Online:2012-04-15 Published:2012-04-15
  • About author:Han Maoli (1955-), Professor and Ph.D, specialized in Chinese historical geography, agricultural geography and environmental change. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40971114; The MOE Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences in Universities, No.08JJD770089


The agricultural reclamations in the Xiliao River Valley since the Holocene have led to a huge landscape change from grassland to farmland. In this paper we reconsider the man-land relationship in the Xiliao River Valley by analyzing three major agricultural reclamations in prehistory, the Liao-Jin Dynasty and the period since the Qing Dynasty. We argue that when the demographic pressure appears in this area, especially during the last reclamation, the intraregional migration (second migration) is the major response to relieve such pressure, which also distinguishes two different settlement locations: “the initial area” and “the secondary area”. Due to the environmental differences between these two areas, the cultivation on the latter one has caused more serious disturbance to the local environment. Thus the secondary area has become the key region which needs environmental management seriously.

Key words: Xiliao River Valley, reclamation, settlement, man-land relationship