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China ’ s Land-Use Changes during the Past 300 Years: A Historical Perspective

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Understanding the processes of historical land-use change is crucial to the research of global environmental sustainability. Here we examine and attempt to disentangle the evolutionary interactions between land-use change and its underlying causes through a historical lens. We compiled and synthesized historical land-use change and various biophysical, political, socioeconomic, and technical datasets, from the Qing dynasty to modern China. The analysis reveals a clear transition period between the 1950s and the 1980s. Before the 1950s, cropland expanded while forested land diminished, which was also accompanied by increasing population; after the 1980s land-use change exhibited new characteristics: changes in cropland, and decoupling of forest from population as a result of agricultural intensification and globalization. Chinese political policies also played an important and complex role, especially during the 1950s–1980s transition periods. Overall, climate change plays an indirect but fundamental role in the dynamics of land use via a series of various cascading effects such as shrinking agricultural production proceeding to population collapse and outbreaks of war. The expected continuation of agricultural intensification this century should be able to support increasing domestic demand for richer diets, but may not be compatible with long-term environmental sustainability.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Chinese land-use changes and associating factors during the past 300 years. (a): cropland area; (b): population; (c): production index (d): annual average temperature (e): decadal war frequency; (f): forest coverage rate; (g): cropland per capita; (h): yield since 1949; (i) Drought Index; (j) tree plantation area since 1949. The blue shadow sections indicate relatively cold periods, the grey shadow highlights the transition period. This figure was reused from Cui et al., 2015 [49].
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ijerph-13-00847-f004: Chinese land-use changes and associating factors during the past 300 years. (a): cropland area; (b): population; (c): production index (d): annual average temperature (e): decadal war frequency; (f): forest coverage rate; (g): cropland per capita; (h): yield since 1949; (i) Drought Index; (j) tree plantation area since 1949. The blue shadow sections indicate relatively cold periods, the grey shadow highlights the transition period. This figure was reused from Cui et al., 2015 [49].

Mentions: Figure 4a shows LUC in China can be divided into three distinct episodes: 1650–1949, 1949–1980s, and the 1980s until now. From 1650 to 1949 the area of cropland generally increased, while the forest cover decreased. Over the long history, approximately half of cropland expansion came from deforestation in China [23]. The remaining cropland came from recultivating the land abandoned during wars and conversion of wetlands and barren land [44]. Cropland spatial distribution shows large regional differences between provinces: the major centers of agricultural production provinces are located in eastern China, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Hunan, Hebei, and Jiangsu. The greatest increases in cropland area occurred in northeastern China, specifically, in the three provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning, but also in more southerly provinces Henan, Jiangsu, and Anhui [5].


China ’ s Land-Use Changes during the Past 300 Years: A Historical Perspective
Chinese land-use changes and associating factors during the past 300 years. (a): cropland area; (b): population; (c): production index (d): annual average temperature (e): decadal war frequency; (f): forest coverage rate; (g): cropland per capita; (h): yield since 1949; (i) Drought Index; (j) tree plantation area since 1949. The blue shadow sections indicate relatively cold periods, the grey shadow highlights the transition period. This figure was reused from Cui et al., 2015 [49].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5036680&req=5

ijerph-13-00847-f004: Chinese land-use changes and associating factors during the past 300 years. (a): cropland area; (b): population; (c): production index (d): annual average temperature (e): decadal war frequency; (f): forest coverage rate; (g): cropland per capita; (h): yield since 1949; (i) Drought Index; (j) tree plantation area since 1949. The blue shadow sections indicate relatively cold periods, the grey shadow highlights the transition period. This figure was reused from Cui et al., 2015 [49].
Mentions: Figure 4a shows LUC in China can be divided into three distinct episodes: 1650–1949, 1949–1980s, and the 1980s until now. From 1650 to 1949 the area of cropland generally increased, while the forest cover decreased. Over the long history, approximately half of cropland expansion came from deforestation in China [23]. The remaining cropland came from recultivating the land abandoned during wars and conversion of wetlands and barren land [44]. Cropland spatial distribution shows large regional differences between provinces: the major centers of agricultural production provinces are located in eastern China, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Hunan, Hebei, and Jiangsu. The greatest increases in cropland area occurred in northeastern China, specifically, in the three provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning, but also in more southerly provinces Henan, Jiangsu, and Anhui [5].

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Understanding the processes of historical land-use change is crucial to the research of global environmental sustainability. Here we examine and attempt to disentangle the evolutionary interactions between land-use change and its underlying causes through a historical lens. We compiled and synthesized historical land-use change and various biophysical, political, socioeconomic, and technical datasets, from the Qing dynasty to modern China. The analysis reveals a clear transition period between the 1950s and the 1980s. Before the 1950s, cropland expanded while forested land diminished, which was also accompanied by increasing population; after the 1980s land-use change exhibited new characteristics: changes in cropland, and decoupling of forest from population as a result of agricultural intensification and globalization. Chinese political policies also played an important and complex role, especially during the 1950s–1980s transition periods. Overall, climate change plays an indirect but fundamental role in the dynamics of land use via a series of various cascading effects such as shrinking agricultural production proceeding to population collapse and outbreaks of war. The expected continuation of agricultural intensification this century should be able to support increasing domestic demand for richer diets, but may not be compatible with long-term environmental sustainability.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus