Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (3): 680-693.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202103013

• Environment and Ecosystem Services • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An assessment of the effectiveness of China's nature reserves for mitigating anthropogenic pressures based on propensity score matching

ZHANG Han1(), LI Xia2(), SHI Hong1, LIU Xiaojuan1   

  1. 1. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Key Lab of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education), School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2020-03-22 Revised:2020-12-20 Online:2021-03-25 Published:2021-05-25
  • Contact: LI Xia;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41531176);National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFA0604402)


Assessing the effectiveness of nature reserves for mitigating anthropogenic pressures is essential for effective nature protection. The current research at national scale in China only compares anthropogenic pressures inside nature reserves to that outside, but fails to solve the problem of sample selection deviation, which will lead to bias in assessment results. In order to solve this problem, we adopted propensity score matching method to improve the accuracy of the results in the evaluation of nature reserves. The multi-source data were firstly integrated to build Anthropogenic Pressure Index in 2013, 2015, and 2017, then the propensity score matching method was applied to match the random points inside and outside the nature reserves, to make sure that the observed variables of the two comparison groups were as similar as possible. Finally, we used relative effectiveness indicator and panel model to assess the effectiveness of 680 nature reserves in China for mitigating anthropogenic pressures from 2013 to 2017 at different levels. The results show that: (1) From 2013 to 2017, 86.72% of China's nature reserves experienced a positive trend of anthropogenic pressures, which accounted for 43.80% of the total area. (2) Some 69.85% of nature reserves performed well in mitigating anthropogenic pressures. Except for marine coasts, wild plants, and wild animals, the types of nature reserves were under sound protection, and the higher the level of nature reserves, the better the protection effectiveness. (3) From 2013 to 2017, anthropogenic pressures were mitigated by 22.90% by the construction of China's nature reserves, and there were regional differences regarding the degree of mitigation. The results can provide a more scientific reference for future monitoring, assessment and management of nature reserves in China.

Key words: nature reserves, anthropogenic pressures, propensity score matching, effectiveness evaluation, panel model