Land Use Change

Spatial patterns and driving forces of land use change in China during the early 21st century

  • 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Chengdu Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS, Chengdu 610041, China;
    4. Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, CAS, Changchun 130012, China;
    5. Wuhan Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, CAS, Wuhan 430077, China;
    6. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    7. Nanjing Institute of Soil Science, CAS, Nanjing 21000;
    8. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China;
    9. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
Liu Jiyuan (1947–), Professor, specialized in remote sensing of natural resources and environment, land use and cover change (LUCC) and ecological effect at macro-scale. E-mail:

Received date: 2009-10-26

  Revised date: 2009-12-29

  Online published: 2010-08-15

Supported by

National Basic Research Program of China, No.2009CB421105; National Key Technology R&D Program, No.2006BAC08B00, Knowledge Innovation Program of the CAS, No.KSCX1-YW-09-01


Land use and land cover change as the core of coupled human-environment systems has become a potential field of land change science (LCS) in the study of global environmental change. Based on remotely sensed data of land use change with a spatial resolution of 1 km × 1 km on national scale among every 5 years, this paper designed a new dynamic regionalization according to the comprehensive characteristics of land use change including regional differentiation, physical, economic, and macro-policy factors as well. Spatial pattern of land use change and its driving forces were investigated in China in the early 21st century. To sum up, land use change pattern of this period was characterized by rapid changes in the whole country. Over the agricultural zones, e.g., Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, the southeast coastal areas and Sichuan Basin, a great proportion of fine arable land were engrossed owing to considerable expansion of the built-up and residential areas, resulting in decrease of paddy land area in southern China. The development of oasis agriculture in Northwest China and the reclamation in Northeast China led to a slight increase in arable land area in northern China. Due to the “Grain for Green” policy, forest area was significantly increased in the middle and western developing regions, where the vegetation coverage was substantially enlarged, likewise. This paper argued the main driving forces as the implementation of the strategy on land use and regional development, such as policies of “Western Development”, “Revitalization of Northeast”, coupled with rapidly economic development during this period.

Cite this article

LIU Jiyuan, ZHANG Zengxiang, XU Xinliang, KUANG Wenhui, ZHOU Wancun, ZHANG Shuwen, LI Rendong, YAN Changzhen, YU Dongsheng, WU Shixin, JIANG Nan . Spatial patterns and driving forces of land use change in China during the early 21st century[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2010 , 20(4) : 483 -494 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-010-0483-4


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