Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (2): 319-332.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1730-y

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Application of an evaluation method of resource and environment carrying capacity in the adjustment of industrial structure in Tibet

NIU Fangqu1,2,3, YANG Xinyu1,3, ZHANG Xiaoping3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-08-28 Accepted:2019-10-12 Online:2020-02-25 Published:2020-04-21
  • Contact: ZHANG Xiaoping
  • About author:Niu Fangqu (1979-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in urban and regional sustainable development modeling. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program(No.2016YFC0503506);The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(No.XDA19040401)


With the degradation of natural resources and environment caused by industrial development in some developing countries, the requirement of implementing a “social ecological” approach to development is imminent. Resource and environment carrying capacity provides a means of assessing regional development potential by measuring regional sustainable development in terms of economy, population and resources & environment. This study develops a conceptual framework for resource and environment carrying capacity estimation to support the co-development planning of industries, population and resources & environment. First, the framework constructs an index system for evaluating importance of industry or influence based on the role of industry played in the local socio-economic system. Then, the framework computes the quantitative relations through the importance of local industry, population size and resource utilization and environment effects, and subsequently estimates the resource and environment carrying capacity of the study area. With a particular attention to its land resources, water resources and environment, the Tibet case study shows that: the non-ferrous metal mining, tourism, liquor and refined tea industries play a pillar role in the Tibet’s socio-economic system; under each industrial structure, land resource carrying capacity is the weakest, and water resources carrying capacity is the strongest; to focus on tourism will improve local resource and environment carrying capacity. The research results provide a solid guide for Tibet government’s co-actions in industrial restructuring, ecological protection, and the pursuit of economic development. This study will contribute to bridge the gap between theoretical research and practical applications of resource and environment carrying capacity, and help local governments plan the regional “socio-ecological” sustainable development.

Key words: resource and environment carrying capacity, industrial structure, sustainability, Tibet