Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (9): 1365-1380.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1901-5

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Influence of the variation in rural population on farmland preservation in the rapid urbanization area of China

ZHANG Mingyu1(), CHEN Qiuxiao2,1,*(), ZHANG Kewei1   

  1. 1. Department of Regional and Urban Planning, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
    2. School of Spatial Planning and Design, Zhejiang University City College, Hangzhou 310015, China
  • Received:2020-07-28 Accepted:2021-03-04 Online:2021-09-25 Published:2021-09-16
  • Contact: CHEN Qiuxiao;
  • About author:Zhang Mingyu (1990-), PhD and Associate Research Professor, specialized in rural development and urbanization. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2018YFD1100302)


In the past 40 years, cultivated land has faced the continued anthropogenic interference, which has become a significant issue for cultivated land preservation during rapid urbanization. The purpose of this research was to reveal the spatio-temporal evolutionary characteristics of cultivated land and the correlation between rural population variation and farmland change in China. Fifty county-level administrative units in Zhejiang Province were selected as the study area wherein spatio-temporal evolution comparative analysis for every 5 years from 2000 to 2015 was conducted. This study used the pool method to estimate the impacts of the rural population variation, average slope, average elevation, rural residential disposable income, primary industry proportion, and road density on farmland utilization efficiency from the spatial perspective, which is represented by landscape metrics including the mean patch size, edge density, area weighted mean shape index, and area weighted mean patch fractal dimension. This study showed that the cultivated land landscape index continued to rise after 2000 and then started decreasing after 2010, indicating a reduction in human interference after 2010. The spatial variation of rural population of all county-level administrative units decreased from 2000 to 2010, and 62% of them began to increase after 2010. The regression analysis results showed that the spatial variation of rural population was significantly and negatively correlated with the cultivated land landscape while the rural residential disposable income, average slope and primary industry proportion were all significantly and positively related to the cultivated land landscape index. The results implied that the loss of the agricultural labor force and the difficulty of sloping farmlands adapting to mechanized farming were unconducive to farmland utilization efficiency improvement, and the increase in nonagricultural activities in rural areas would increase the difficulty of cultivated land preservation. Our analysis suggests that local governments should improve the production efficiency of fragmented land or strengthen the construction control of housing and facilities in rural areas according to their regional urbanization development situation.

Key words: rural population, farmland, landscape metrics, Zhejiang Province