Poverty is a key issue restricting rural sustainable development; concurrently, regional land degradation impedes agricultural development and rural revitalization. China faces severe land degradation and deepening rural poverty under the context of rapid urbanization. To address these challenges, sustainable land use is an important tool in our society’s economic development. Rural engineering, including rural land consolidation, reclamation, restoration, reallocation, improvement, and development, is the most direct and effective way to achieve rural sustainable poverty alleviation. This study clarifies the framework between land engineering and rural poverty alleviation, and introduces land engineering technologies, newly created land utilization practices, and the contributions to poverty alleviation in representative degraded land regions. Land engineering can increase land quantity, improve land quality, enhance land ecological function, and promote man-land system coupling. Further, it can erase rural poverty by increasing county revenue and households’ income, lead to industrial development, and improve living environment. Specifically, degraded sandy land, gully land, hollowed construction land, and barren hilly land are transformed into productive land by improving the land structure. Innovated land engineering technologies and sustainable land utilization modes can provide the basic theories and reference approaches for rural poverty alleviation. Identifying obstacles to effective land and corresponding engineering practices are crucial to regional land exploitation and development, improving quality of life and alleviating rural poverty.
Quantitative characterization of environmental characteristics of cropland (ECC) plays an important role in maintaining sustainable development of agricultural systems and ensuring regional food security. In this study, the changes in ECC over the Songnen Plain, a major grain crops production region in Northeast China, were investigated for the period 1990-2015. The results revealed significant changes in climate conditions, soil physical properties and cropland use patterns with socioeconomic activities. Trends in climate parameters showed increasing temperature (+0.49°C/decade, p < 0.05) and decreasing wind speed (-0.3 m/s/decade, p < 0.01) for the growing season, while sunshine hours and precipitation exhibited non-significant trends. Four topsoil parameters including soil organic carbon (SOC), clay, bulk density and pH, indicated deteriorating soil conditions across most of the croplands, although some do exhibited slight improvement. The changing amplitude for each of the four above parameters ranged within -0.052 to 0.029 kg C/kg, -0.38 to 0.30, -0.60 to 0.39 g/cm3, -3.29 to 2.34, respectively. Crop production significantly increased (44.0 million tons) with increasing sown area of croplands (~2.5 million ha) and fertilizer application (~2.5 million tons). The study reveals the dynamics of ECC in the Songnen Plain with intensive cultivation from 1990 to 2015. Population growth, economic development, and policy reform are shown to strongly influence the spatiotemporal changes in cropland characteristics. The study potentially provides valuable scientific information to support sustainable agroecosystem management in the context of global climate change and national socioeconomic development.
This paper echoes a tradition in agricultural geography by focusing on a single crop: cherries. It illustrates how developments associated with globalisation and growing urban markets are re-shaping rural areas. The interplay between global and local is investigated in two different contexts. A Chinese example reflects transformations affecting the countryside following national economic reforms. Focusing on the hinterland of Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, it examines farmers’ responses to the changing socio-political context and the rising size and wealth of the local market. Individual initiatives backed by government support have spawned localised concentrations of cherry growing and increased horticultural production. Farm-based tourism is creating new relationships between farmers and consumers, with farms becoming more diversified and multifunctional. The second example is the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, where cherry growing is increasingly combined with direct sales to consumers and gastronomic tourism. The paper addresses contrasts and similarities between the two examples in the interplay between global and local, and a ‘multifunctional transition’ in farming. Concluding remarks include reference to new economic links forged between China and Australia through relaxations on cherry imports to China and new patterns of Chinese foreign direct investment into Australian cherry production. A research agenda for future research is suggested.
Rapid peri-urbanization has become a new challenge for sustainable urban-rural development worldwide. To clarify how unprecedented urban sprawl at the metropolitan fringe impacts urban-rural landscape, this study took the Beijing-Tianjin corridor of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei metropolitan area, one of the largest urban clusters in China, as a typical example. By using Landsat-based landscape metrics and a practical methodology, we investigated the landscape changes and discussed the potential reasons in the context of rapid peri-urbanization of China. Specifically, multi-temporal land use maps derived from Landsat images were used to calculate landscape metrics and analyze their characteristics along the urban-rural gradients. The practical methodology was used to monitor spatio-temporal characteristics of landscape change in large metropolitan areas. The results showed that landscape patterns in the area had changed greatly from 2000 to 2015 with characteristics of construction land sprawl and arable land shrinkage. The intensity and scale of landscape changes varied along the urban-rural gradients. Sampled plots in urbanized areas and rural areas demonstrated distinguishable landscape patterns and significant differences. Urban areas had more heterogeneous and fragmented landscapes than rural areas. Peri-urban areas in general experienced higher levels of land diversification than rural areas. Rural residential land appeared to be more aggregated near Beijing and Tianjin cities. Besides, our findings also indicated that urban expansion was largely responsible for landscape patterns. The findings of this study potentially provide strategical insights into landscape planning around mega cities and sustainable coordinated urban-rural development.
Exploring the impact of land consolidation on the changes of local land use and the landscape patterns is important for optimizing land consolidation models and thus accelerating the sustainable development of local communities. Using a typical small watershed in Yan’an City (Shaanxi, China), the impact of gully land consolidation on land use and landscape pattern change, based on high-resolution remote sensing image data and landscape pattern analysis, was investigated. The results showed that: (1) The terraces, sloping fields, shrub land and grassland at the bottom and both sides of the gully were converted mainly to high quality check dam land. Also, some of the shrub land, due to biological measures, was converted to more ecologically suitable native forest. Thus, the areas of check dam land and forests increased by 159 and 70 ha, while that of shrub land, grassland and sloping fields decreased by 112, 63 and 59 ha, respectively. (2) The average patch area and patch cohesion index for the check dam land increased, which indicated that the production function improved. The landscape shape index and the patch cohesion index for forestland and shrub land were maintained at a high level, and thus the ecological function remained stable. (3) At the watershed level, the degree of fragmentation of the landscape decreased and the landscape became more diversified and balanced; the anti-jamming capability of the landscape and the stability of the ecosystem improved also. Research suggests that implementing gully land consolidation in a rational manner may contribute to improvements in the structure of local land use and the patterns of landscape.
The mountainous and hilly region plays an important role in ecological safety and production in China. However, recent studies have poorly characterized the parallel structure of land use in the valleys of the mountainous and hilly region using topographic factors (e.g. elevation, slope, aspect). Here, the loess hilly region of northern Shaanxi Province is used as a representative case area to analyze the vertical distribution pattern of land-use conversion using the relative elevation concept and the HAND index. The differences in the vertical structure of land-use conversion between absolute elevation and relative elevation were compared. We found that the classifications of absolute and relative elevation had similar proportions of each relative elevation grade in each absolute elevation grade. Cropland, woodland, and grassland were distributed evenly in each grade of absolute/relative elevation, while water body, built-up land and unused land were more likely to spread in low grades of relative elevation than those of absolute elevation. The land-use conversion (i.e. loss of cropland and gain in woodland and built-up land) showed an apparently stepped distribution with relative elevation classification, suitable for revealing vertical distributions of land-use conversion in the loess hilly region. Cropland transformed to woodland was mainly distributed in high grade of relative elevation, decreasing with a decrease in grades, while built-up land transformed from cropland and grassland was mainly distributed in low grade of relative elevation, decreasing with increases in grades. The grade of relative elevation where cropland transformed to woodland descended with the implementation of the Grain for Green Project. Our results suggest that it is better to analyze the vertical distribution of land-use conversion with relative elevation classification in hilly regions.
The study of multi-dimensional expansion of urban space (MEUS) addresses the laws of urban spatial expansion from all directions and angles. Using Nanjing as an example, this paper constructs multi-temporal, urban three-dimensional models based on RS and GIS technology and then conducts qualitative and quantitative analysis of MEUS using plot ratio change maps and MEUS quantitative index for built-up areas. Based especially on the concept of volume growth contribution rate, this paper analyzes the characteristics of MEUS in different stages. The results show that in 2000-2004, planar expansion played the main role, the internal potential development (IPD) intensity of the urban built-up areas was relatively large, and the volume growth contribution rate was low; in 2004-2008, planar expansion accelerated, and IPD slowed down; in 2008-2012, planar expansion slowed while IPD intensity increased; the contribution rates of volume growth of urban IPD for the three periods were 22.21%, 24.51% and 73.38%, respectively. This study expands the research perspective of urban spatial expansion, and the adopted methods are instructive and meaningful for MEUS research. In addition, the results of this study will deepen the understanding of MEUS laws and help improve scientific decision-making for urban planning and urban land use management.
Land is the root of rural revitalization, and its core is to reinvigorate land resources through the building up of land capacity. Since the late 1990s, land consolidation efforts have been widely extended to all parts of China. Land consolidation has served as an essential instrument for reinvigorating stock land, strengthening intensive land use, timely supplementing cultivated land, and promoting agricultural modernization, as well as urban-rural integration. This study uses a typical poor village (Dadao Village) in a state-designated impoverished county (Fuping County, Hebei Province), to analyze the socioeconomic benefits and eco-environmental impacts of land consolidation. With the aid of first-hand data from questionnaire surveys, face-to-face interviews and the visual interpretation of land use and land cover changes (LUCC), we found that: 1) the barren hilly land consolidation (BHLC) helps to promote the transformation of resource-advantages into asset-advantages in poverty-stricken areas. In 2017, 60.16% households in the study area gained the additional transferred-income with an annual average of 2843 yuan, while 19.11% households received the wage-income with an annual average of 9871 yuan. 2) Land consolidation inspires farmers’ enthusiasm to participate in village government and helps alleviate rural poverty. From 2014 to 2017, land consolidation has helped 585 poor in the village out of poverty. Meanwhile, by land consolidation, most farmers’ attitudes towards land consolidation have shifted from “not caring” to “have great concern,” and their identity cognition has gradually changed from being bystanders to becoming decision makers and supervisors. 3) Further analysis demonstrated that land consolidation could not only increase the quantity and quality of arable land, but also have a certain impact on eco-environment. During 2014-2016, the BHLC in the study area transformed 242.12 ha unused barren hilly land and open forest land into well-facilitated arable land, and increased the average arable land by 0.19 ha per capita. Also, the index of land use intensity increased by 27.01% between 2014 and 2016. Farmers’ perceptions of environmental awareness have confirmed that such high-intensity LUCC were significant enough to make two-side impacts on eco-environment. We appeal to establish a combined organization and encouragement mechanism of rural land consolidation, to take the full breadth and depth of farmers’ participation into consideration, and to formulate more scientific and sustainable land consolidation planning. Also, we put forward some suggestions and notes for the implementation and promotion of BHLC model. These findings can provide beneficial references for those involved in policymaking and planning in the areas of land consolidation and poverty alleviation in China, as well as other developing countries around the world.
This paper analyzes the spatial variation in soil erosion in the loess hilly-gully region of northern Shaanxi Province, China. It sums up existing research, describes the factors that drive soil erosion, and uses geodetection to investigate the factors individually and in pairs. Our results show that soil erosion in the loess hilly-gully region of northern Shaanxi is mainly hydraulic erosion. There are significant spatial differences in the severity of soil erosion in the region. Generally, it is more severe in the north and west and less severe in the south and east. Individual factor detection results show that the major risk factors affecting soil erosion are human population distribution, precipitation, land-use type, elevation, and soil type. Interactive detection results show that interacting factors play much bigger roles in soil erosion than do individual factors. Based on forced detection results from different periods of time, we can see that forest and grass coverage, urbanization, and economic development in the study area all clearly inhibit soil erosion.
In order to better understand the quality of newly created farmland (NF) as well as slope and check-dam farmland (CF) soil quality, two typical traditional farmland areas within the hilly and gully region of Chinese Loess Plateau were selected as controls in this analysis. The results of this study initially reveal that pH values for slope farmland (SF) and CF were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than those for NF and that SF values were always greater than those of their CF counterparts. At the same time, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil organic matter (SOM) occurred in the following size-decreasing sequence, i.e., CF, SF, and NF. Data also show that long-term planting has resulted in increases in total nitrogen (N), available N, total phosphorus (P), available P, total potassium (K) and available K and has also enhanced concentrations of soil copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), and manganese (Mg) as well as soil cadmium (Ca), lead (Pb), chromium (Cr), and mercury (Hg). These latter elements occur in the concentration sequence of SF > CF > NF. Overall, results indicate that long-term planting negatively impacts soil health because of the accumulation of toxic heavy metals. This means that farmland planted over longer timescales needs to lie fallow to enable it to rehabilitate while NF requires the addition of organic matter as well as rotational utilization in order to facilitate the development of green agriculture.
Land use in the northeast region of Thailand has changed dramatically in the past two decades. These changes are mainly due to the government policies, which launched a scheme to promote rubber plantation during 2003-2013 targeting to solve the problem of poverty in the region. At least 50,000 ha of paddy fields were found to be converted to other land use types between 2002 and 2012. This study was conducted in Nong Khai and Bueng Kan province of northeast Thailand, where massive rubber plantation is going on prompting significant amount of land-use change, with the objective of investigating how land-use changes will affect on food availability in future. We analyzed land-use changes of the past and simulated future land uses using GIS and Landsat Thematic Mapper Data. The most obvious change was the decrease in paddy field and an increase in rubber plantation. This eventually leads to decreased paddy production affecting food supply of farm households. The land use projections for 2032 were done for three scenarios using Dyna-CLUE model. Unlike business as usual scenario, which will further decrease the paddy area, other scenarios with different land use policies if implemented will help protect paddy areas and thus achieving higher food production locally. The lack of implementation of proper spatial policies will lead to a further loss of paddy areas at macro level. The smallholder farmers may be highly vulnerable to land use-change and experience significant food crop losses, food insecurity and income loss when they change the land to rubber and there is market failure.
With global climate change, the agricultural light-temperature potential productivity in the agro-pastoral ecotone has increased. This offers a good opportunity to develop agriculture in the agro-pastoral ecotone. However, the agro-pastoral ecotone is also an ecologically fragile area in which land degradation challenges agricultural development. As population grows and the need for food increases, the land carrying capacity of the agro-pastoral ecotone becomes insufficient, and the human-land relationship is not harmonious. Such conditions have limited the agricultural and rural development in the ecotone. The paper demonstrates how land engineering may improve land quality and support agricultural development in the ecotone based on studies at a research station established in 2015 in Yulin, Shaanxi Province, China. The studies target three factors: soil improvement, crop selection, and field management. The results show that: (1) The highest yield of crops planted on improved land is close to or even higher than that achieved under previous crop growth conditions. For instance, the corn yields can exceed 25%. (2) The potatoes grown on the improved land yield the highest gross income, reaching 67,200 yuan/ha. By way of land engineering, input costs can be balanced in 3-5 years. (3) As a result of land engineering, some villages in Yulin City have realized sustainable agricultural and even rural development, and promotion of this model will support the sustainable development of agriculture in the agro-pastoral ecotone.
Land use/land cover change (LUCC) has considerable impact on ecosystem services. It is essential to quantify the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of ecosystem services from the perspective of LUCC, which will benefit regional land management and ecological protection. We analyzed land use change in the Pearl River Delta from 2000 to 2015, and we used a spatially explicit integrated modeling tool (InVEST) for quantification of ecosystem services-water yield, carbon storage, soil retention, and food supply. The results revealed increases in the areas of grassland and built-up land, and decreases in the areas of woodland, cropland, water body, and unused land during 2000 to 2015, which have caused increase in water yield and carbon storage, while decrease in soil retention and food supply. The dynamic changes of woodland, grassland, cropland, and built-up land were the main driving factors in the relationship of trade-offs and synergies among the four ecosystem services, which are ubiquitous. Those all illustrate the importance of considering ecosystem services in decision making related to land use and land management.
Investigating and monitoring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements is important to optimize rural land use and understand spatial patterns. Measuring cultivated land area is costly and inefficient, however, as this land use type is often widely dispersed and scattered. A new method is therefore explored in this study that utilizes a Phantom2 Vision + (P2V), one kind of Dajiang (DJI) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The method proposed here includes generating rural settlement images using a P2V UAV, subsequently correcting them using a camera lens model, matching them with geo-coded high resolution alternatives, mosaicking them, measuring the area of cultivated land reclaimed from rural settlements, evaluating measurement accuracy, and analyzing overall efficiency. The results of this study show that use of a P2V UAV is reasonable in price, less than 8000 yuan (RMB), and that this method is able to measure cultivated land area reclaimed from rural settlements with 99% accuracy. This method is therefore low cost, highly efficient, and low risk, as well as being easy to learn and use. This UAV-based approach is also likely to be easily popularized and be particularly useful both for application across plains and flats as well as over mountains and hills. The method proposed in this study is also likely to prove beneficial for monitoring and managing rural land use and future consolidation.