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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2018, Vol. 28 Issue (11) : 1595-1610     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-018-1531-8
Special Issue: Land system dynamics: Pattern and process |
The changing patterns of cropland conversion to built-up land in China from 1987 to 2010
JU Hongrun1,2,3,4(),ZHANG Zengxiang1,ZHAO Xiaoli1,WANG Xiao1,WU Wenbin5,YI Ling1,WEN Qingke1,LIU Fang1,XU Jinyong1,HU Shunguang1,ZUO Lijun1,*()
1. Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
2. School of Tourism and Geography Science, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, Shandong, China
3. Department of Geography, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
5. Key Laboratory of Agri-informatics, Ministry of Agriculture/Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
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Over the past few decades, built-up land in China has increasingly expanded with rapid urbanization, industrialization and rural settlements construction. The expansions encroached upon a large amount of cropland, placing great challenges on national food security. Although the impacts of urban expansion on cropland have been intensively illustrated, few attentions have been paid to differentiating the effects of growing urban areas, rural settlements, and industrial/transportation land. To fill this gap and offer comprehensive implications on framing policies for cropland protection, this study investigates and compares the spatio-temporal patterns of cropland conversion to urban areas, rural settlements, and industrial/transportation land from 1987 to 2010, based on land use maps interpreted from remote sensing imagery. Five indicators were developed to analyze the impacts of built-up land expansion on cropland in China. We find that 42,822 km2 of cropland were converted into built-up land in China, accounting for 43.8% of total cropland loss during 1987-2010. Urban growth showed a greater impact on cropland loss than the expansion of rural settlements and the expansion of industrial/transportation land after 2000. The contribution of rural settlement expansion decreased; however, rural settlement saw the highest percentage of traditional cropland loss which is generally in high quality. The contribution of industrial/transportation land expansion increased dramatically and was mainly distributed in major food production regions. These changes were closely related to the economic restructuring, urban-rural transformation and government policies in China. Future cropland conservation should focus on not only finding a reasonable urbanization mode, but also solving the “hollowing village” problem and balancing the industrial transformations.

Keywords cropland loss      urban growth      rural settlement      industrial land      transportation land      China     
Fund:National Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment, No.2017ZX07101001
Corresponding Authors: ZUO Lijun     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 21 December 2018
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JU Hongrun
ZHANG Zengxiang
ZHAO Xiaoli
WU Wenbin
YI Ling
WEN Qingke
LIU Fang
XU Jinyong
HU Shunguang
ZUO Lijun
Cite this article:   
JU Hongrun,ZHANG Zengxiang,ZHAO Xiaoli, et al. The changing patterns of cropland conversion to built-up land in China from 1987 to 2010[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(11): 1595-1610.
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Figure 1  The relationship between built-up land expansion and cropland loss
Figure 2  Distribution of cropland and built-up land and the agricultural regions in China in 2010
Cropland to built-up land (km2) 1987-1995 1995-2000 2000-2005 2005-2010 1987-2010
Urban 5440 1265 6451 5945 19101
Rural settlement 5536 2184 3609 3534 14863
Industrial/transportation land 966 718 2517 4658 8859
Total 11942 4167 12576 14137 42822
Table 1  The area of cropland converted into built-up land of China during 1987-2010
Figure 3  Temporal changes of SCB (the speed of cropland lost to built-up land) and PCB (the proportion of cropland lost to each built-up land type in the cropland lost to total built-up land) in China from 1987 to 2010
Figure 4  Spatial patterns of areas of cropland lost to built-up land of China in 5 km × 5 km grids
Figure 5  Spatial patterns of dominant types of cropland conversion to built-up land of China in 5 km × 5 km grid cells
Figure 6  Spatio-temporal pattern of Ccrop in China (the contribution of built-up land expansion to cropland loss)
Figure 7  Spatio-temporal pattern of Dcrop in China (the dependence of built-up land expansion on cropland loss)
Figure 8  Spatio-temporal pattern of Tcrop (the percentage of traditional cropland in the cropland lost to built-up land)
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