Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (3): 313-324.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1270-7

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of rural-urban migration on vegetation greenness in fragile areas: A case study of Inner Mongolia in China

Shiji LI1,2(), Zhigang SUN1, Minghong Tan3(), Xiubin LI3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2015-09-28 Accepted:2015-11-13 Online:2016-07-25 Published:2016-07-25
  • About author:

    Author: Li Shiji, PhD Candidate, specialized in land use and land cover change.

    *Corresponding author: Tan Minghong, PhD and Associate Professor,

  • Supported by:
    Projects of International Cooperation and Exchanges NSFC, No.41161140352;The Major Research Plan of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.91325302;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271119


Different government departments and researchers have paid considerable attention at various levels to improving the eco-environment in ecologically fragile areas. Over the past decade, large numbers of people have emigrated from rural areas as a result of the rapid urbanization in Chinese society. The question then remains: to what extent does this migration affect the regional vegetation greenness in the areas that people have moved from? Based on normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data with a resolution of 1 km, as well as meteorological data and socio-economic data from 2000 to 2010 in Inner Mongolia, the spatio-temporal variation of vegetation greenness in the study area was analyzed via trend analysis and significance test methods. The contributions of human activities and natural factors to the variation of vegetation conditions during this period were also quantitatively tested and verified, using a multi-regression analysis method. We found that: (1) the vegetation greenness of the study area increased by 10.1% during 2000-2010. More than 28% of the vegetation greenness increased significantly, and only about 2% decreased evidently during the study period. (2) The area with significant degradation showed a banded distribution at the northern edge of the agro-pastoral ecotone in central Inner Mongolia. This indicates that the eco-environment is still fragile in this area, which should be paid close attention. The area where vegetation greenness significantly improved showed a concentrated distribution in the southeast and west of Inner Mongolia. (3) The effect of agricultural labor on vegetation greenness exceeded those due to natural factors (i.e. precipitation and temperature). The emigration of agricultural labor improved the regional vegetation greenness significantly.

Key words: rural-urban migration, agricultural labor, vegetation greenness, NDVI, Inner Mongolia