Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 563-580.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1615-0

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatiotemporal features of farmland scaling and the mechanisms that underlie these changes within the Three Gorges Reservoir Area

Xinyuan LIANG1(), Yangbing LI1,2,*()   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Tourism, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 401331, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Surface Process and Environment Remote Sensing in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, Chongqing 401331, China
  • Received:2018-06-14 Accepted:2018-08-18 Online:2019-04-25 Published:2019-04-12
  • Contact: Yangbing LI E-mail:liang_xiny;
  • About author:

    Author: Liang Xinyuan (1996-), Master, specialized in soil and water conservation and land use. E-mail: liang_xiny

  • Supported by:
    Key Basic Science and Cutting Edge Technology Research Plan of Chongqing, No.cstc2015jcyjBX0128;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41261045;Chongqing Normal University Graduate Student Research Innovation Project, No.YKC18033


Discussions regarding the functional transformation of agricultural utilization and the mechanisms that underlie these changes within the Three Gorges Reservoir Area (TGRA) reflect variations in the relationship between people and their environment in China’s central and westerns part, an area of mountains and reservoirs. A clear understanding of these changes also provides the scientific basis for the development of multi-functional agriculture in typical mountainous areas. Five counties were selected for analysis in this study from the hinterland of the TGRA; we analyzed changes in farmland scaling and corresponding underlying mechanisms by defining the concepts of “Scaling Farmland” (SF) and by using the software packages ArcGIS10.2, SPSS, and Geographical Detectors. The results of this analysis show that sources of increased SF have mainly comprised cultivated and shrub land. Indeed, with the exception of some alpine off-season vegetables, SF growth has mainly occurred in low altitude areas and in places where the slope is less than 30°. We also show that spatial changes in various SF types have also been substantially different, but in all cases are closely related to road and township administrative centers. Natural factors at the patch level, including elevation and slope, have contributed significantly to SF, while at the township level, underlying socioeconomic and humanistic factors have tended to include road traffic and agricultural population density. In contrast, at the regional level, underlying driving forces within each have tended to be more significant than overall study area scale. We show that while changes in, and the development of, SF have been driven by numerous factors, agricultural policies have always been amongst the most important. The results clearly elucidate general land use transformation patterns within the mountain regions of western China.

Key words: Three Gorges Reservoir Area, functional transformation of agricultural land, scaling farmland, spatiotemporal features, underlying driving forces