Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (8): 1563-1575.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201908006

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Evaluation of resources environmental carrying capacity and its application in industrial restructuring in Tibet, China

NIU Fangqu1,2,FENG Zhiming1,LIU Hui1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
  • Received:2018-07-05 Revised:2019-05-25 Online:2019-08-25 Published:2019-08-07
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program(2016YFC0503506);The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA19040401);The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20080100)


As natural resources are experiencing rapid reduction and the environment is degenerating, resource environmental carrying capacity has attracted more and more attention in China. However, current research on resource environmental carrying capacity still stays at theoretical level leaving the gap with applications. Moreover, the study conclusions are usually not of policy implications and lack of operability. This study develops a comprehensive analytical framework for the co-development of industries, population, economy, resources and environment. The framework first evaluates the importance of all industries to local social economy and determines the direction of industrial structure adjustment, and then identifies the interaction relationships among the socioeconomic development, resource consumption and environment emission, and subsequently evaluates the resource environmental carrying capacity, which helps achieve the maximum socio-economic development under the premise of environmental protection and efficient resource utilization. The Tibet case study estimates the local resource environmental carrying capacity under different development scenarios and therefore determines the maximum population and economic scale through industrial structure adjustments under the constraints of resource and environment. The results show that to focus on the development of tourism can significantly improve the resource environmental carrying capacity of Tibet. The results could help make decision regarding local industrial structure adjustments to achieve sustainable development. In conclusion the proposed analytical framework provides an operational decision support tool for "socio-ecological" sustainability. It can be extended to other regions through minor parameter adjustments.

Key words: resource environmental carrying capacity (RECC), industrial structure, evaluation method, sustainable development, Tibet