Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (7): 817-835.doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1204-9

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Does cultivated land function transition occur in China?

Xiaoqing SONG1(), Yuan HUANG1, Zhifeng WU1,*(), Zhu OUYANG2   

  1. 1. Institute of Land Resources and Urban-Rural Planning, College of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2015-02-12 Accepted:2015-03-20 Online:2015-07-15 Published:2015-06-24
  • Contact: Zhifeng WU;
  • About author:

    Author: Song Xiaoqing, PhD, specialized in land use change and multifunctional land management.

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41401191;Guangdong Natural Science Foundation, No.S2013010014526;The Ministry of Education, Humanities and Social Science Planning Project, No.13YJA790074;Guangzhou Municipal Collaborative Research Fund of Science and Technology, No.2012J5100044;Science Research Program of Universities and Colleges in Guangzhou, No.1201430923


Land function change has been the focus of scientific research and policy making worldwide. Agricultural development and land use demand at present in China shared common characteristics with the countries such as Japan, South Korea, USA, and European developed countries, which have undergone cultivated land function transition. Whether cultivated land function transition occurred is of significance for land change science and cultivated land protection in China. However, there has been no explicit methodology for cultivated land function change research. This paper firstly presents a methodology by integrating policy development analysis based on the normative connotation of cultivated land function or termed cultivated land function demand and quantitative assessment based on the positive connotation of cultivated land function or termed cultivated land function supply. Then, cultivated land function transition is diagnosed by analyzing cultivated land function change in 1949-2012. Results show that cultivated land function transition overall occurred in 2006. Specifically, the normative cultivated land function or cultivated land function demand fragmented into seven types in 1985 and upgraded in 2004. Total value of the positive cultivated land function or cultivated land function supply turned to rise with an increase from 2.40 to 2.45 as the coefficients of variability (CV) of the value of the seven functions decreased from 2.94 to 2.29 in 2006-2012. The two-year gap between these two aspects of transition mainly resulted from the time lag effects of policy implementation. In the process of the transition, co-ordination and malposition of supply and demand of cultivated land function coexisted with supply lag and function morphology distortion. Considering the transition experiences in the developed countries mentioned above, suggestions on multifunctional cultivated land management are proposed. Moreover, route of land use transition research is discussed.

Key words: cultivated land, multifunction, land use, transition, policy, China