Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (3): 503-517.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201803009

• Land Use • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Land use transition of mountainous rural areas in China

ZHANG Bailin1,GAO Jiangbo2,GAO Yang3,CAI Weimin1,ZHANG Fengrong3   

  1. 1. School of Management, Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin 300387, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. School of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
  • Received:2017-05-03 Online:2018-03-20 Published:2018-03-23


In agricultural society, the cultivation of mountainous land was a representative of intensified contradiction between human and land which resulted in water loss and soil erosion. With the rapid urbanization and industrialization in poverty-stricken mountainous areas, the labor emigration relieves this contradiction significantly, and leads to land use transition, which results in a series of natural and socio-economic changes. This research built an analysis framework of "Land use transition - driving mechanism - effects - responses" in mountainous land use transition and then put forward the further direction of mountainous land reclamation. The results indicate that: (1) The tendency change of land use morphology was the core of rural land use transition in mountainous areas. The expansion of cropland, as well as the contraction of forest land in agricultural society, has changed to the abandonment of cropland and the expansion of forest land is the main characteristic of the dominant land use morphology transition. Land marginalization and land ecological functional recovery are the main characteristics of the recessive land use morphology transition in mountainous areas. (2) Socio-economic factors are the primary driving forces during the mountainous land use transition. Labor emigration is the direct driving forces. Meanwhile, the rising costs of farming opportunities, and the harsh living environment that lead to labor emigration are the root cause for mountainous land use transition. (3) The transition of rural land use in mountainous areas reduces the vulnerability of land ecosystem and improves its ecological security barrier function. The advantages and disadvantages of its socio-economic effects should focus on rural development of mountainous areas and the livelihood of farmers, and need to be supported by empirical and quantitative researches. (4) The transition of land use in rural areas is a benign process of natural restoration and ecological optimization. The rural land remediation in mountainous areas should conform to the law of land use transition, and the target orientation will shift from the increase of cultivated land to the synergies of ecological and environmental protection.

Key words: land use transition, driving force, effect, land reclamation, mountainous areas, China