Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2011, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (5): 859-868.doi: 10.1007/s11442-011-0885-y

• Ecological Environment • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatiotemporal change of ecological footprint and sustainability analysis for Yangtze Delta Region

WANG Ping, WANG Xinjun   

  1. Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • Received:2011-02-27 Revised:2011-04-10 Online:2011-10-15 Published:2011-10-03
  • About author:Wang Ping (1980-), Ph.D, specialized in urban ecological planning and regional sustainable development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China for Young Scholars, No.50808048; The Humanities and Social Science Research Projects of the Ministry of Education, No.07JA630036


In the urbanizing world, the Yangtze Delta Region (YDR) as one of the most developed regions in China, has drawn a lot of the world’s attention for the remarkable economic development achieved in the past decades. Nevertheless, the rapid economic development was certain to be accompanied by unprecedented consumption and loss of natural resources. Therefore, the analysis of the ecological situation and driving factors of environmental impact was of great significance to serve the local sustainable development decision- making and build a harmonious society. In this paper, the ecological footprint (EF) was taken as the index of the ecological environmental impact. With the help of Geographic Information System (GIS), we studied the spatiotemporal change of ecological footprint at two scales (region and city) and assessed urban sustainable development ability in YDR. Then we discussed the driving factors that affected the change of ecological footprint by the Stochastic Impacts by Regression on Population, Affluence, and Technology (STIRPAT) model. The results showed that increasing trends of regional ecological footprint during 1998-2008 (1.70-2.53 ha/cap) were accompanied by decreasing ecological capacity (0.31-0.25 ha/cap) but expanding ecological deficit (1.39-2.28 ha/cap). The distribution pattern of ecological footprint and the degree of sustainable development varied distinctly from city to city in YDR. In 2008, the highest values of ecological footprint (3.85 ha/cap) and the lowest one of sustainable development index (SDI=1) in YDR were both presented in Shanghai. GDP per capita (A) was the most dominant driving force of EF and the classical EKC hypothesis did not exist between A and EF in 1998-2008. Consequently, increasing in ecological supply and reducing in human demand due to technological advances or other factors were one of the most effective ways to promote sustainable development in YDR. Moreover, importance should be attached to change our definition and measurement of prosperity and success.

Key words: ecological footprint, spatiotemporal analysis, sustainable development index, STIRPAT model, Yangtze Delta Region