Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (8): 899-924.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1412-6

• Orginal Article •     Next Articles

Research progress in man-land relationship evolution and its resource-environment base in China

Xiaoyun LI1,2(), Yu YANG1,2(), Yi LIU1,2   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-08-12 Accepted:2016-09-30 Online:2017-08-31 Published:2017-08-31
  • About author:

    Author: Li Xiaoyun (1989-), PhD, specialized in man-land relationship and regional development. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Yang Yu (1984-), Associate Professor, specialized in energy geography and regional development. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41430636, No.41371141, No.41590841


Man-land relationship research, as the core of geographical research, runs through each development stage of Geography. Based on extensive literature review, this paper systematically generalizes the connotations, research development and contents of man-land relationship in China. (1) It explores the connotations and evolvement rules of man-land relationship in different social development stages in China, and finds that the core role of man-land relationship in geographical research has been strengthened continuously. Changing with times, its connotations have been considerably enriched by sustainable development and other notions, and so does its theoretical system. (2) It applies the bibliometric method to sketch out the basic research status of man-land relationship in China. Specifically, it quantitatively identifies the funding sources, major research teams and journals for publication. It finds that the funding sources show a diversification trend with national funding being the primary source of research grants. The most competitive research teams are mainly concentrated in the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and normal universities. Journals sponsored by The Geographical Society of China are most influential in publishing man-land relationship research. (3) As resources and environment are the fundamental carriers of man-land relationship, this study focuses further on the research on resource-environmental base of man-land relationship, and finds that the resource-environmental base research in China has gone through an evolution process from single factor perspective research to comprehensive multiple perspective research gradually. Research themes have also experienced similar changes from land, water, energy minerals or other single factor research to comprehensive factor research of resources and environment. Empirical study on national and regional development strategies is the feature of man-land relationship in China. More emphasis should be put on considering and following the changes in features of “man” and “land” and research on the impacts of new factors on man-land relationship in a developing and dynamic manner in the future. Particularly, we should pay more attention to research on the impacts of spatio-temporal changes in resource-environment absolute location on modes of man-land interaction, and to strengthening interdisciplinary research and systematic research on comprehensive techniques so as to advance the development of application of man-land relationship theories and practices.

Key words: China, man-land relationship, resource, environment, progress