Human-Environment Interactions

Analysis of the population capacity in the reconstruction areas of 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake

  • Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China

Received date: 2010-09-02

  Revised date: 2010-11-30

  Online published: 2011-06-15

Supported by

National Key Technology R&D Program of China, No.2008BAK50B05; Knowledge Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.KZCX-YW-Q06; No.KZCX2-YW-Q03-06


Assessment of population carrying capacity is a key task in the reconstruction planning of areas struck by disasters, in which the precision of estimation is required. This study developed a decision-making model for estimating the population capacity of the involved townships and cities in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake based on the assessment of the suitability for reconstruction of the areas. Through analysis, arable land resources were argued to be the critical constraint of population capacity in these areas. Then, the spatial differentiations of the post-quake development conditions across different regions were analyzed with respect to their natural environments, socio-economic development and quake damages. The expected levels of urbanization, family incomes and income structures, output levels of land, and the reliance of agricultural population on arable land were estimated by different regions. With these parameters, the population capacities of the involved townships and cities in three scenarios were estimated. The total population capacity of the entire areas is abundant compared with the actual post-quake population; however, the status of over-population substantially varies across space. It was suggested to put the emphasis of post-quake resettlement policy on those counties where earthquake had been the main causes of over-population. In the Full Recovery Scenario, three mountain counties were identified including Wenchuan, Beichuan and Maoxian, with a total over-population of about 100,000 people.

Cite this article

GAO Xiaolu, CHEN Tian, FAN Jie . Analysis of the population capacity in the reconstruction areas of 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2011 , 21(3) : 521 -538 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-011-0861-6