Land use change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. In the last 20 years, China’s land use pattern has undergone profound changes. This study constructs an Ecosystem Comprehensive Anthropogenic Disturbance Index (ECADI) to assess disturbance impacts of land use change between 1990 and 2010 on biodiversity conservation priority areas at national and regional scales. Four levels of biodiversity conservation areas were categorized: generally important areas, moderately important areas, important areas, and very important areas. The results indicated a higher ECADI value in 2010 in Central and Eastern China than in Western China, and the values of the moderately important, important and very important regions were lower than the average value of the whole country at all levels. Notably, in recent 20 years, the change extent of ECADI values in Central and Eastern China were much greater compared with that in Western China, and ECADI values in the moderately important, important and very important biodiversity conservation areas all showed increasing trends, with the increasing extent lower than that of whole China at all levels. Due to human activities such as urbanization in Eastern China and cropland reclamation in Northeast China and Xinjiang, ECADI values showed a medium increase trend (the change rate was about 1%-5% in 10 years), which indicated the need for more conservation efforts in those regions. However, ECADI values in the Loess Plateau presented a low decline trend (the change rate was about -1% to -0.1% in 10 years) after 2000 because of the obvious effectiveness of Green for Grain Project. Furthermore, the variation was negligible in the Tibetan Plateau.
As one of the key issues in China’s sustainable development, rapid urbanization and continuous economic growth are accompanied by a steady increase of water consumption and a severe urban water crisis. A better understanding of the relationship among urbanization, economic growth and water use change is necessary for Chinese decision makers at various levels to address the positive and negative effects of urbanization. Thus, we established a complete decomposition model to quantify the driving effects of urbanization on economic growth and water use change for China and its 31 provincial administrative regions during the period of 1997-2011. The results show that, (1) China’s urbanization only contributed about 30% of the economic growth. Therefore, such idea as urbanization is the major driving force of economic growth may be weakened. (2) China’s urbanization increased 2352×108 m3 of water use by increasing the economic aggregate. However, it decreased 4530×108 m3 of water use by optimizing the industrial structure and improving the water use efficiency. Therefore, such idea as urbanization is the major driving force of water demand growth may be reacquainted. (3) Urbanization usually made greater contribution to economic and water use growth in the provincial administrative regions in east and central China, which had larger population and economic aggregate and stepped into the accelerating period of urbanization. However, it also made greater contribution to industrial structure optimization and water use efficiency improvement, and then largely decreased total water use. In total, urbanization had negative effects on water use growth in most provincial administrative regions in China, and the spatiotemporal differences among them were lessened on the whole. (4) Though urbanization helps to decrease water use for China and most provincial administrative regions, it may cause water crisis in urban built-up areas or urban agglomerations. Therefore, China should construct the water transfer and compensation mechanisms between urban and rural areas, or low and high density urban areas as soon as possible.
Land urbanization plays an important supporting and restriction role in the rapid and sustainable development of urbanization in China, and it shows distinctive spatial heterogeneity. Applying urban area as the basic research unit and urban construction land area as the core indicator, this paper establishes the conceptual framework and calculation method for the quantity and rate of land urbanization process. The study evaluates the spatial differentiation pattern of absolute and relative process of land urbanization in 658 cities in China from 2000 to 2010. The spatial distribution of cities with rapid land urbanization process is discussed, and the contribution rate and its spatial heterogeneity of major land use types are examined with the aid of GIS. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) Land urbanization in China shows a clear spatial difference. The greater the city scale, the faster its land urbanization. The cities with rapid land urbanization show a significant pattern of central distribution in coastal regions and a scattered distribution in the inland regions. (2) Over the last 10 years, the average quantity of land urbanization in the 656 cities was 3.82 km2, the quantity of land urbanization is differentiated by administrative grade. The average rate of land urbanization was 6.89%, obviously faster than the speed of population urbanization. The rate of land urbanization reveals a pattern of differentiation between coastal and other cities. (3) In the past 10 years, the two primary land use types associated with land urbanization in China are residential and industrial, with a combined contribution rate of 52.49%. The greater the scale of the city, the more significant the driving effect of industrial land. In small- and medium-scale cities of the western and central regions, the growth of residential land is the primary driver of land urbanization, while in coastal urban agglomerations and cities on important communication axes, the growth of industrial land is the main driver. (4) Overall, urban population agglomeration, industrial growth and investment are the three drivers of land urbanization in China, but cities of different scales have different drivers.
Based on multiple remote-sensing image interpretation and classification, and economic and social data, this study focused on rural settlement and land use change amidst rapid urbanization. Rural settlements, spatial and temporal patterns of land use and influencing factors in the Bohai Rim were explored within 5×5 km grid cells, as per GIS spatial analysis and geostatistical analysis. Results show that the spatial distribution of rural settlements in the Bohai Rim is remarkably varied. The number of rural settlement sites in a 5×5 km grid cell exceeding 5.0 are distributed in a six-area pattern in the Bohai Rim; rural settlement dispersion is particularly high in agricultural regions in south Hebei and southwest Shandong, suggesting rural settlement density keeps increasing from northeast to southwest, characterized by high density and dispersed spatial distribution in traditional agricultural regions. Furthermore, rural settlements show dramatic spatial differences in terms of distribution and dynamic change degrees in the Bohai Rim. In terms of spatial distribution, rural residential land is always extensive in plains, with a high density of rural settlements, on the North China Plain in particular, and rural residential land in the south of Shandong province is also extensive, with most rural settlement land use areas in the 5×5 km grid cells exceeding 3 km2. However, traditional agricultural regions have underdeveloped economies, industrialization and tertiary industries, characterized by low urbanization rates, with farmers not feeling assimilated in rural or urban areas. In terms of the temporal sequence, urban expansion rapidly promotes the transformation of rural residential lands in rural-urban transitional belts of provincial capital or prefecture-level city into urban lands, and in traditional rural areas, residential lands are growing. The natural environment, transportation conditions, economic development and farmers’ incomes all have effects on type of land use change and pattern of rural settlements. It is a core objective for future rural development to reconstruct a rational spatial pattern of villages or towns and well-organized village-town systems, build central villages, key towns or central towns, optimize or reconstruct production, living and eco-space of rural areas. It is of significance for rural geographical research to further interpret and explore spatial reconstruction theory.
Water demand increases continuously with an increasing population and economic development. As a result, the difference between water supply and demand becomes a significant issue, especially in arid regions. To figure out the utilization of water resources in the arid region of northwestern China (ARNWC), and also to provide methodologies to predict the water use in future, three models were established in this study to calculate agricultural irrigation, industrial and domestic water use in the ARNWC from the late 1980s to 2010. Based on river discharges in the region, the supply and demand of water resources at the river basin level were analyzed. The results indicated that agricultural irrigation demand occupies more than 90% of the total water use in the ARNWC. Total water demand increased from 31.97 km3 in the late 1980s to 48.19 km3 in 2010. Most river basins in this arid region were under medium and high water stress. Severe-risk river basins, such as the Shiyang river basin and the eastern part of the northern piedmont of the Tianshan Mountains, were found in this region. It was revealed that the water supply became critical from April to May, which was the season of the lowest water supply as determined by comparing monthly water consumption.
It is necessary to reconstruct past changes in land use and land cover to understand the historical effects of humans on climate and the local environment. We collected information from historical documents on the cropland area at the county level for Heilongjiang Province, northeast China during 1900-1910. The original records from different historical documents were calibrated with each other. We then defined an agricultural suitability index quantified by the distance from settlements, the slope and complexity of the topography, and the distance from rivers. Following the order of the agricultural suitability index from high to low values, the documented areas of cropland at the county level were then allocated into 1 km × 1 km cells. The area of cropland in 2009 was then retrieved from Landsat ETM+ images and compared with the areas of cropland during 1900-1910 to determine the human-induced changes in land use and land cover. In this period, the total area of cropland was about 25,397 km2 and this mainly occurred in the mid-southern part of Heilongjiang, in particular the six counties of Hailun, Bayan, Wuchang, Hulan, Shuangcheng and Wangkui. In 2009, the total area of cropland had increased to about 163,808 km2 and had spread over the southwestern part to the central and northeastern parts of Heilongjiang. The area of cropland had therefore increased by about 138,411 km2 during the 20th century. The proportion of land used as cropland increased from about 5.6% during 1900-1910 to about 36.2% in 2009, indicating that about 30.6% of the natural land surface in Heilongjiang was replaced by cropland. A total of about 44% (60,962 km2) of the cropland was converted from forest, mainly on the western edge and in the northeastern part of the present-day agricultural area. These areas of cropland reconstructed from historical records for the period 1900-1910 could be used as a basic data set to study the effects of agricultural development on climate and the local environment.
Land consolidation has a profound impact on landscape patterns and ecological functions at various scales through engineering and biological measures. In recent years, China invests more than 100 billion RMB yuan on land consolidation each year. To understand how land consolidation affects landscape patterns and ecosystems, we investigated the ecosystem service value and the ecological connectivity in a consolidated area of Da’an city from 2008 to 2014 using a revised ecological connectivity index. The results indicated that land consolidation has certain negative influences on the ecosystem services in this area. The total ecosystem service value will decrease by nearly 30% in the late stage of consolidation. This decrease is caused by the loss of ecosystem service of the wetland and grassland, despite a sensible increase of cultivated land. In addition, land consolidation could change the ecological connectivity as well as the land use structure. Up to 85% of the entire area will be in low connectivity in the late stage of consolidation, representing a 6.23% increase in the total coverage compared to pre-consolidation. Finally, the different connectivity landscape and their key areas can be identified by the revised ecological connectivity index effectively. This study is helpful to trace out the relationships between landscape pattern and ecological process, and provides insights for ecological planning and designing of land consolidation in this area. We suggest that more attentions should be paid to improve the quality and ecosystem service value per unit area of the landscape, to establish ecological compensation mechanism of wetland losses, and to create the ecological corridors along the least accumulated impendence surface in the key areas during land consolidation.
Demographic change was thought to be the most major driver of land use change although there were several interacting factors involved, especially in the developing countries. In this paper, we selected western Jilin province in China as the study area to provide a case study for understanding the relationship between spatial-temporal pattern of the land use change and population dynamics from 1975 to 2010. The results showed that the change of farmland area percentage could be modeled well by using a quadratic function, the least area percentage of farmland was 15.4% in areas where the population density was 0 people/km2, and farmland area percentage had a greatest value of 94.8% when population density was 199.25 people/km2. The area percentage of grassland, water body and wetland decreased exponentially with population density increased. The relationship between land use degree and population density could be modeled well by using a logistic regression models. Due to economic growth and technological progress and the existence of Hollow Village phenomenon, land use degree still increased in areas where population density was negative growth. In addition, land use dynamics increased exponentially with population density change. Land use relative change of woodland, grassland, built-up land and wetland were proportional to population density change. According to the simulation results of the land use structure and land use degree, Da’an and Zhenlai had the greatest possibility to be further reclaimed. As sensitive and fragile areas, it was of significance to study environmental protection and ecologic construction on Tongyu and Qian’an.