Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (10): 1713-1730.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1687-x

• Review Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rural land use transition of mountainous areas and policy implications for land consolidation in China

ZHANG Bailin1, SUN Piling2, JIANG Guanghui3,*(), ZHANG Ruijuan3, GAO Jiangbo4   

  1. 1. School of Economics and Management, Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin 300387, China
    2. School of Geography and Tourism, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao 276826, Shandong, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, School of Natural Resources, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    4. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2019-01-05 Accepted:2019-03-12 Online:2019-10-25 Published:2019-12-09
  • Contact: JIANG Guanghui
  • About author:Zhang Bailin (1987-), Associate Professor, specialized in land use transition and rural development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41801193);National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.41671519);Tianjin Science and Technology Development Strategic Research Plan Project(No.17ZLZXZF00170)


The cultivation of mountainous land results in water loss and soil erosion. With rapid urbanization and industrialization in China, labor emigration relieves the cultivation of mountainous areas in regions with high poverty and leads to a significant land use transition. This research built an analysis framework for “land use transition - driving mechanism - effects - responses” for mountainous areas of China undergoing land use transition and then proposed the direction of mountainous land consolidation. The results showed that the turning point of land use morphology was the core of rural land use transition in mountainous areas. The expansion of cropland and the contraction of forestland have transitioned to the abandonment of cropland and the expansion of forestland; this transition was the main characteristic of the dominant land use change. Land marginalization and land ecological functional recovery were the main characteristics of the recessive land use transition in mountainous areas. Socioeconomic factors were the primary driving forces during land use transition in mountainous areas, with labor emigration being the most direct force. The rising costs of farming and the challenging living conditions causing labor emigration were fundamental driving forces. Rural land use transition in mountainous areas reduced the vulnerability of the ecological function of land ecosystems. The advantages and disadvantages of the socioeconomic effects should focus on rural development of mountainous areas as well as the livelihood of farmers; this should be further supported by empirical and quantitative research. Rural land use transition of mountainous areas improves natural restoration and is related to socioeconomic development. Rural land consolidation of mountainous areas should conform to land use transition, with the goal of shifting from the increase of cultivated land to the synergies of ecological and environmental protection.

Key words: land use transition, driving force, effect, land consolidation, mountainous area